Feedback can be impactful. The type of impact is often in large part based on two factors. The intention we have when giving it, and how well crafted our message is. The intention is hopefully entirely “other focused”, how can we best serve and benefit the person we are providing the feedback to. The message and delivery should be thoughtful and intentional.
Tip #1: Prepare. Take the time to prepare carefully when providing feedback. Whether it is positive or constructive it is important to consider the words you use and the information you share. “Good job” or “that fell a little short” is not feedback, because there is no clarity around specifically what was good or what fell short.
Feedback should be constructed so that the recipient knows exactly what you are referring to, exactly what behavior (which is something that can be said or done) you are referring to, and the impact that behavior had on you – positive or negative.
Example (positive): Thank you for providing handouts ahead of the leadership meeting this morning. I feel more prepared when I have the opportunity to review the information prior to the meeting. I appreciate you sending the materials out 24 hours ahead of time.
Example (constructive): In the leadership meeting this morning, when you handed out the booklets of information immediately before you began your presentation, I felt unprepared to provide thoughts or feedback because there was so much information to digest on the spot. I felt I also missed some of your talking points because I was trying to read through the information as you were presenting. If it is possible to send information out at least 24 hours ahead of this type of presentation, I would find that very helpful.
Tip #2: Be timely. We can all be guilty of procrastinating to give feedback, especially when it is constructive, because we may feel uncomfortable. Statistically there are many more of us that desire feedback than those of us willing to give it. However, if we care about those we work with (and I hope we all do) we owe it to them to move past our discomfort and provide them with honest feedback that could be helpful. We all have blindspots and we need others who care about us to help us recognize these things so that we have the opportunity to grow. Feedback should be given within a few days at most so that it is still relatable and fresh in your mind, as well as the mind of the person you are providing it to.
Tip #3: Own the feedback. When we provide feedback, it is important that we own it – not, “I’ve heard that…” or “well, word around the office is…”. If someone else has feedback to give, let them do it themselves. Feedback we provide should be from our experiences and perspectives and we should own it fully with “I” statements.
“I want to give you some feedback on your presentation. I found it really well organized and packed with relevant data which helped me buy-in easily.”
“I felt a bit thrown off because there was no data to support the concepts shared.”
Tip #4: Check your motivation: The intent of providing feedback is not to vent or share frustrations, it should be to provide information that we truly believe could be useful to know, and provide benefit to the recipient. Whether it is positive feedback to help them recognize strengths or accomplishments, or constructive feedback to share our perspective of opportunities for improvement, feedback should be given with a servant’s heart of helping and supporting the other person.
Tip #5: Give it and move on: When we give the gift of feedback we need to recognize that the other person is now the owner of that gift. They will decide what to do with it. We should not be waiting for an explanation or response other than, hopefully, “thank you for that feedback.” Of course if it is a leader/direct report scenario there may be times when an action plan may follow or accountabilities are necessary, but when it is not directive feedback from a leader that requires “next steps”, we should have no expectation of further discussion. Remember, our motivation in giving it was to provide the person with our perspective which we thought might be useful. Once we have done that, they can then consider what we have shared and do with it what they will.
Maybe they will even “re-gift” you later on by providing insightful feedback to you, and when they do … are you ready to receive it productively and proactively? Be on the lookout for my next article, 5 Tips to fully benefit from feedback.