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The Gift of Feedback

Regardless of our roles, we all give and receive feedback, both positive and negative. How did I do? Do you like it? Great game!

For many people, feedback has become something to dread. We dread receiving it, and we dread giving it. But when we take a closer look at feedback, we find something quite different. Feedback is a gift. Feedback, when given properly, is simply providing knowledge to the receiver for the purpose of helping him or her improve.

We generally understand this intuitively when dealing with children, helping them learn to tie their shoes, reminding them to choke up on the bat, or teaching them proper form or technique. Somehow, as people get older, we “forget” how to give good feedback. As adults, we often struggle with giving feedback to employees or team members, for fear of hurting their feelings. We forget that we usually share the same goals. We all want to get better; we want our teams to function better; we want higher sales, happier customers, more efficient processes. If we can keep perspective on its purpose, feedback becomes easier to both give and receive.

So how do we give good feedback? Research shows that the annual performance evaluation is not the most effective way to evaluate performance. Instead, we should offer regular, ongoing feedback that address issues and challenges as they occur. In similar fashion, we should offer praise and recognition for a job well done.

Feedback should be specific. If you tell a new basketball player to stop traveling, but you’ve not explained to him or her what traveling is, your feedback will not achieve the changes you are seeking. Likewise, if you tell an employee that he or she is doing something incorrectly, but don’t explain what is correct, the employee may not be able to make the hoped-for changes.

If you have built a strong, trust-based relationship with your team, your feedback should be well-received.

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