Giving and receiving feedback is essential if you want your business and the people around you to evolve. Constructive feedback should be welcomed and if you’re tiptoeing around worrying about hurting somebody’s feelings, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The feedback process is definitely delicate and you need to be sensitive about how you project yourself. Done right, it can help the person become even better at what they do instead of sending them into a shame spiral of anxiety.
Why are you giving feedback?
One of the most important things you can do when giving feedback is to understand why you feel the need to give it.
Are you after a particular result? Is it for the benefit of the person you’re giving it to? Some people can get defensive when they’re receiving feedback so make sure you’re thinking about the end result and how it benefits the recipient. You can end up with a breakdown in the relationship if you’re giving feedback based on personal preference.
The feedback environment
Also take into account how this feedback is going to be given. Whether it’s an informal or formal situation, you want to the person receiving the feedback to feel comfortable and safe. Make sure that they are open to hearing what you have to say. They will never take anything on board if they’re not ready to listen.
Scott Halford on entrepreneur.com stresses, “Don’t be mean-spirited. Your feedback usually won’t be productive if it’s focused on making the other person feel bad or make them look foolish in front of peers.”
Be as specific as possible when you approach them. Your feedback could be in response to a result the person has achieved or maybe it’s a behavioural thing they do. Try to talk about the overall impact they have on other people. Be courteous and respectful when you’re speaking with them. Communication style is key in these kinds of situation An article with forbes.com suggests, “Avoid being judgemental.”
Positives and negatives
Always start with something positive. It’s a good idea to let them know that you value their role in the organisation. If you focus too much on the negative things, it’s highly likely that they’re going to lose a bit of confidence, which is ultimately unproductive.
An hbr.org article says, “five positive comments for every negative one,” is an optimal ratio for keeping employee performance on a high.
Start a dialogue
Remember that you are usually basing your feedback only on what you can see. Ask questions and try to get some more facts about the situation. An open dialogue with the receiver might shed light on something that you weren’t aware of before. Changing your perspective entirely.
Finally, make suggestions for how they could improve their behaviour. Speak from your own experiences and let them know you are there for them if they need help. Think of it as an ongoing process and check back in with them from time to time to see how they are doing.
Maki is a feature writer for ProjectManager.com, a provider of online project management software to customers in more than 100 countries.