We begin by seeking to understand the obstacles or concerns. We find that reluctance to give feedback often centres on one or more of the following:
Addressing each of these concerns is therefore important.
While most bosses seem to think that they dole out praise by the dozen, I rarely meet an employee who feels that the boss sufficiently values his or her achievements. So, as often as possible, tell your employees how much you appreciate their commitment and hard work.
Getting over the feedback problem
When feedback is given well it has been shown to:
- boost performance
- enhance learning, skills and understanding
- motivate and build confidence
- demonstrate recognition and value
Unfortunately feedback is often not carried out well. People who have experienced poorly given feedback in the past are less inclined to ask for more of it and are also less likely to be comfortable giving feedback to others. The negative impact of poorly provided feedback tends to further undermine the value and benefit of feedback that is delivered well. In short, people tend either not to give or ask for it, and when they provide it, may give it poorly. The whole problem therefore becomes stuck in a negative loop.
Our approach is always to start from a position of gaining understanding and to ask the question, what is going on here? In our experience it is important to explore previous experiences of poorly given feedback in order that people have the opportunity to think through and process what has happened before. This helps them become more receptive to the opportunities feedback presents when done well.
Unfortunately feedback is often carried out badly, for example when:
- used negatively to convey criticism
- used unjustly perhaps without knowing the full picture or by someone with an axe to grind
- given without permission
In all such cases, poor feedback is given when the intention or purpose behind it is not positive and/or when it is delivered with poor skill. In the next of our occasional series on feedback we'll look at when it's appropriate to give feedback.