Giving and Receiving Feedback
I just completed a 12 week Leadership program for a long-time client. Because I had worked with this client in the past I knew that one of the areas they needed help in, was giving both positive and negative feedback to employees.
I designed the program so that one of the largest components of the course was to teach them how to give feedback so it was easy, comfortable and well received. I did this through giving them the assignment of them giving a short presentation every session and I would give them feedback on how they did. They always thanked me for the feedback and would work to improve their skills for the next presentation.
I asked them how they felt when I gave them an area to improve upon. To a person they all agreed they were eager to hear how to improve. I then asked them why they didn’t take offense to my telling them that they needed to get better. They thought about it, then said that it was the way in which it was offered to them.
They were then instructed to give the feedback to each other the following week. They did so and to their amazement, they felt good about themselves and good about helping others to grow.
The model I use to give feedback is very simple.
- First, it is very important that your intent is one of trying to help the other person, not to catch them doing something wrong.
- Next, make sure you praise the individual on what they do well. This not only makes them feel good about themselves, they also feel good about you.
- Then, phrase your critical feed back in terms such as, “In order to do even better, you can consider doing –whatever area they need to improve in. This will increase your value even more than it currently is.”
- IMPORTANT, only give them one thing at a time to improve upon. Remember, you’re trying to build a rapport with them as well as build them up in their confidence level.
Back to my story:
After a number of weeks where the participants had given feedback to one another numerous times, I asked if this had helped them in their work life. One young manager related how she had to give an evaluation to someone who, in the past, had given her problems and had been oppositional to any suggestions of improvement. She followed the model she had learned and amazingly, not only was it comfortable for her, but also for the employee she was evaluating. In fact, the individual who received the feedback thanked her and put the suggestions into practice.
If you are interested in developing other people, remember, they need to get feedback from you. Feedback they will accept and act upon. It will help them improve their performance and make them more valuable in your relationship with them.
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© 2005 Margo Chevers