Giving and receiving effective feedback is not always an easy task, and here are some insights to help you along the way.
Feedback is intrinsic to our growth, whether in life or in the workplace. It helps us to gauge our performance, correct and learn from our mistakes, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and in essence, develop as humans.
But many of us find it difficult to give and receive feedback, and everyone is different. This typically causes ambiguity for leaders. Is the feedback that you’re providing too harsh? Is it too vague? How the feedback is given, and then how it is received by that particular person, could result in anger, defensiveness, confusion, or a lack of direction.
There is certainly an art to providing and receiving feedback, particularly when you need to understand the person you’re dealing with, their needs and expectations, but let’s take a look at some things that can help establish positive feedback loops.
Feedback is a far more effective problem-solving tool than criticism. It’s focused on a clear, positive goal. Constructive and effective feedback creates a sense of togetherness between the person giving and the person receiving the feedback.
Criticism tends to focus on errors, flaws, or failures. Even with golden intentions, criticism will serve to hurt someone, put them ‘in their place’, and/or elevate the speaker above the recipient, instilling unproductive authoritarianism. We view criticism as a threat and often interpret it inaccurately as our ‘flight or fight’ instincts kick in and distract us from listening to and understanding the content.
When people are accustomed to receiving criticism, they’ll brace themselves and put up walls when it comes time to receive feedback. It’s the responsibility of leadership to cultivate and nurture an environment of feedback over criticism. It takes time and trust to establish the mutual respect that’s inherent in feedback that’s void of any criticism, and only then does it become effective.
One of Enspira’s core offerings is our Manager Essentials Lab (MEL). It defines effective feedback as a shared conversation that supports growth, provides recognition, frames advice, and is delivered regularly. The benefits of effective feedback are abundant:
When providing effective feedback, it’s important to avoid potential pitfalls such as speaking in generalities, involving third parties, or bringing personal issues into the conversation. You should also be wary of certain biases that you may have towards the individual. Some common forms of biases that can seep into your feedback discussions include:
When providing feedback, here are some helpful things to keep in mind:
One example of an effective feedback strategy is starting the conversation with a simple yes or no question that allows the brain to recognize that feedback is coming. “Do you have a few minutes to discuss some ideas I would like to share with you?” It gives the recipient the autonomy to say yes or no, which helps mitigate fear better known as an amygdala hijack, the brain's response to a threat.
It’s also important to remember that feedback is a process, not a statement. Be specific about the certain situations in which X behaviors are observed, and discuss the impact those behaviors have on Y. Ask how they see it or what their experience of the situation may be. Listen to their answers and be prepared to change your position if the information provides new, additional context. Finally, express your intention in giving the feedback. This helps support your goal to create a relationship with mutual trust and understanding, so that any challenges can be addressed effectively as a team and both parties, along with their working relationship, can continue to grow and develop.
Receiving feedback can always be a challenge, particularly if your past experiences have been demeaning or unhelpful. Keep in mind that many managers struggle to give effective feedback and may not have the proper tools and strategies in place. Be patient, and know that in most cases, it’s not personal.
However, some people do take things more personally than others. If you fall into that bucket, a useful approach is to mentally frame the feedback as information.
Taking in new information is akin to reading the weather report. It may change what you do tomorrow morning, but it’s not personal. Important things to remember while receiving feedback:
We emphasized the importance of framing feedback as information. This helps to remove emotion from the discussion so that you can better focus on the overall message and your individual improvement.
If you tend to tense up during feedback conversations, remember to breathe. Simple actions such as relaxing your shoulders and hands can help put your mind at ease and remind yourself that you’re not under threat.
Listening carefully allows you to pull out the useful information that will help you grow and develop, setting yourself up for greater success in the future.
Positive, effective feedback is a gift. Project an attitude of gratitude. The person giving the feedback may also be feeling tense or nervous, particularly if they’re new to the process, so a simple “thank you” often goes a long way.
If the feedback is vague or confusing, ask for specifics. Feedback conversations are meant to be just that, a conversation. If your manager doesn’t initiate the discussion following the feedback, ask questions to clarify what you heard and show that you were listening. For example, you could start by saying, “I want to make sure I heard you correctly and that we’re on the same page…”
A recent Gallup poll found that only 17% of millennials are getting meaningful, helpful feedback at work, preferably with a relative degree of frequency. And millennials are not alone. Increasingly, employees are recognizing the value of feedback, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that only receiving feedback once a year during your annual review is insufficient.
So take the initiative. Ask for feedback. It can be specific - “how did my response in the meeting serve to share our team’s values??” - or more general - “where do you see I have opportunities for growth ?” For leaders, ask for feedback on the feedback you give. The most effective and efficient way to grow and develop in anything that you do is to identify what you did well and where you can improve.
The feedback conversation does not always feel natural, but with regular practice and strategies for implementation, the value of sharing regularly will be evidenced in the progress you and your team make both in your working relationships and productivity.
Subscribe to our newsletter for regular insight and news
As old paradigms fall by the wayside, how we shape company culture and do business altogether is transforming at breakneck speeds.Read More >>
Uniqueness of identification has grown and blossomed into a spectrum of diversity, challenging the way companies think about DEIBRead More >>
There are a number of complex forces at play that are steering people away from the workforce, but arguably the most common and predominant, is burnout.Read More >>
There are many new concepts and theories out there today that promote an improved work-life balance for employees, the five-hour workday being one of the most compelling.Read More >>
Just because you say that you're operating strategically doesn't actually mean that your plan is strategic.Read More >>
With growing pressure on companies to give employees more freedom, the role of the traditional manager is becoming more and more obsolete.Read More >>
Well-connected, critically-skilled employees have more choices today regarding how and where they work than ever before.Read More >>
Yes, “be yourself” is definitely sound advice; and these days, employers are known to tell their employees the same thing.Read More >>
There's an energized focus on DEIB programs are surging across the American workplace - why aren't employers taking action?Read More >>
It's not always easy to know when to prioritize between speed or time in business, and there may not be one right answer.Read More >>
Your words likely don't have the impact that you intend them to have, and this can be problematic, particularly in the workplace.Read More >>
Giving and receiving effective feedback is not always an easy task, and here are some insights to help you along the way.Read More >>
Unlimited PTO sounds like a dream come true, but we're not so sure. Is it here to stay, or is it just the flavor of the week?Read More >>
Join us for an intersectional discussion with experts in neurodiversity on the benefits of employing a diverse team.Read More >>
We bring our biases everywhere, and even during our most celebrated and joyous traditions, they can leave an impact.Read More >>
Are we truly our most productive when we work five days a week? Recent studies suggest that might not be the case.Read More >>
For Pride Month 2021, Enspira interviewed two pioneers in the LGBTQ+ business community who continue to inspire change.Read More >>
This article will discuss how to recognize when someone is struggling with their mental health, tips on thoughtfully reaching out, and how to talk about it with them when they’re ready to receive help.Read More >>
We must all continue to acknowledge and celebrate diversity in the workplace, and only then will we see lasting change.Read More >>
The raging pandemic has pushed people beyond reasonable limits, and has adversely affected women disproportionately.Read More >>
The world is facing monumental challenges in the time of COVID-19, widening existing gaps in racial and gender equity.Read More >>
It’s now more important than ever to ensure your organization has strong people manager capability and effectiveness.Read More >>
How inclusive is your organization? Simply checking the representation boxes and creating policies isn't enough.Read More >>
Providing experience-based wisdom and action in platform selection, implementation, and integration of HRtech applications.
Engendering company embodiment of belonging by addressing DEI in structures, policies, and practices for long term sustainability.
Bringing talent assessment & intelligence to new heights by providing a comprehensive view of functions to place the right people in the right roles.
Building present and future leadership competency through fit-for-person coaching, workshop modules and practical applications applied to individuals or across teams.
Providing a future forward thinking, equitable, and inclusive search experience for candidates and companies.
Enabling sustainable employee engagement and performance through foundational alignment of business and human purpose.
Creating the right talent management strategies and plan to ensure retention and development of a superior workforce.
Building comprehensive employee engagement and retention strategies to improve productivity, reduce staff turnover, increase innovation, and retain customers.
Finding the right combination of benefits, compensation, rewards, and recognition to sustain employee engagement and performance.
Helping organizations through complex and challenging evolutions ensuring that employees are kept engaged throughout the journey.