Giving the Gift of Feedback
Giving constructive feedback to others is hard.
But, it’s super important for a number of reasons.
I remember working for an IT company around 10 years ago and I had some pretty critical feedback for the Managing Director at the time following some frustration around the products we were selling.
“There is a lack of cohesion in the business, each department has its own agenda. I fear I’ll be in the exact same position this time next year, I am just not growing here”.
That really hit a nerve.
It resonated with the MD though, he knew I was right and that I cared.
There was a dysfunction that he was almost blind to.
Sales were selling well, but not doing it in the right sustainable way.
To my surprise, it lit a fire in his belly, and he started taking massive action to address the issue and improve the company.
He referred to it as “Radical Honesty” at the time.
He said “remove the BS, that slows us down. Let’s be upfront, to the point and from a place of love. That’s our mantra.”
I later came across the very well-known concept by Kim Scott Radical Candor which is basically the same thing.
Provide constructive feedback because you care and see a gap.
But why should we see feedback as a gift? 🎁
It helps us get better
It’s a catalyst for significant improvement
It helps correct gaps in your customer and employee experience
It helps prevent mistakes from re-occurring
It saves money and time
We all have blind spots, feedback raises our awareness
7 Best Practices When Delivering Constructive Feedback
1/ Timely - providing timely feedback has the biggest impact. Do not let time go by without addressing the issue. The individual needs to be aware of the undesired behaviour so they can adjust it. Secondly, if you’re not promptly plugging the gap, the mistake or error may occur a second time which costs the business time and money.
2/ Avoid Negative Feedback Bias - it can be easy to spot the things that need work and continue to focus on providing critical feedback. There are probably a large number of things the individual is doing well, but we sometimes have a bias to look for the things that they aren’t doing so well. Ensure you’re praising the positives too.
3/ Data - bring up the example or what you have observed in real-time, so the individual can see exactly what you’re referring to. Feedback should always be data or observation-driven, and not inference.
Inference refers to interpretations or conclusions that we conclude ourselves without any hard facts. Be very specific about this actual state and what the desired state looks like.
4/ Objection - the person receiving the feedback may disagree, and that’s ok. Helping them understand the feedback in more detail and why it’s important is critical. Also, be open to their thoughts, your feedback may be based on the data you’re aware of, and they may share something which paints a very different picture. Context adds a lot of colour, so be open to adjusting your approach or withdrawing the feedback if things aren’t as they originally seemed.
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