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The Art of Giving Feedback

Feedback - to give or not to give that is the question. The thought of giving feedback can make grown adults weak at the knees – why? Feedback is an integral part of a business. It aids in personal and business growth, lets people know when they aren’t quite on the right page and re-affirms they are doing a good job. But why are we inherently scared of feedback? It all comes down to the delivery.

Make it a positive experience

Ask yourself why you are giving the feedback. Generally, it is to improve a situation or performance. Making it unpleasant isn’t going to do that but turning it into a positive experience will go a long way to achieving the desired effect. Start with a positive, focus on the improvement and make it fair and balanced, not harsh and critical.

Timing

Giving feedback, constructive and positive, needs to happen as close to the event as practical. Saving a year’s worth and regurgitating it at an annual performance review is not helpful to anyone. Feedback shouldn’t be a surprise – often people are expecting it. If there is an issue, address it. If a staff member has gone above and beyond, praise them. Making it a regular part of your day, week, or as often as required will ensure people know how they are performing all of the time.

Be specific

Be specific and stick to the facts you know. Tell the person exactly what areas you have concerns with, but most importantly offer suggestions and strategies to help. Make plans and set goals. Offer advice. Give an understanding and insight into how their behaviour has impacted the business and where their role fits in the bigger picture.

Limit the topics

A feedback session should involve only one to two topics. Any more and the person may feel like they are being attacked. Include positives so they don’t walk away with their confidence in tatters. Let them walk away instead with the vibe you want to help them learn, grow and develop not that you want them out the door.

Delivery

Positive feedback can be given in a public area but criticising should be done in private. Depending on the personality of the person, delivery may be better by email initially with a follow up meeting once they have had time to digest the information. Others prefer it straight. Getting to know personality types is vital.

Don’t get personal or seek to lay blame. Avoid terms like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘all’. What is done is done but here is the chance to learn from the experience. Write notes. Whilst you don’t want to be reading from a script you do want to address all points and stay on track.

Feedback shouldn’t all be negative, the benefits of positive feedback should be remembered. Positive feedback is about taking the opportunity to express appreciation of a job well done. By overlooking praise and thanks, we are missing an opportunity to inspire positivity in those already performing well.

Sam Pratt