Whether you are an employee, manager or entrepreneur, the people you work with need support to grow, change attitude or perspective, improve skills or become aware of a given behaviour and the impact this has on others. As manager, team member or coach you will find yourself giving feedback. The way you give feedback might alienate or support others. Feedback is a skill you need to master so you can provide it in a valuable and constructive manner, without making this personal.

What is feedback?
Feedback is the input a person can provide after analysing or observing a given behaviour.

Feedback is part of a dialogue or interaction between 2 people or team members.
It is an observation process delivered in a specific way with the goal of supporting growth, skill development or creating awareness regarding a particular behaviour.

Feedback is best appreciated when given by someone with credentials and knowledge, and/or when the intention is to create positive change.

Individuals who have started a new process (learning a skill/behaviour), benefit greatly from feedback as it teaches them how to work with others or becoming a better professional

How to give feedback?

Giving feedback must have a common goal. When giving feedback to individuals or groups, an interactive approach is the best method. This supports a dialogue between the person receiving and the one giving the feedback, the responsibility lies with both the individuals and it further builds self-awareness and self-confidence and last but not least, advances the learning process. It is important to be consequent and use a feedback model that suits you best. When possible give feedback often and to the point.

To render the feedback process a positive process and experience, prepare yourself well and give careful consideration to the following points: what is the aim of the feedback, who is the person you will be talking to, how can you best serve them, and how can you deliver the information so it is well received. Also, remember to set a time and do not run over it.

Follow these steps when giving feedback and you will both have a great experience:

• Make sure the person on the receiving end is ready for your feedback
• Ask for permission to give feedback
• Allow time for the receiver to state his/her expectations and way they would like to receive feedback – use the learning style of the receiver
• Explain the goal and reason for the feedback
• Build on previous given feedback – if applicable
• State observed behaviour and use specific examples. Use the receiver’s language
• Explain the impact of the observed behaviour. For example: “when you raised your voice at me, I felt upset and disrespected”
• Make the feedback about the “what”, not the “who”
• Use the I form. I see, I felt, I noticed…. Be specific and keep it short
• Pause and allow time for the receiver to think and say what they want. Do not take their reaction personally
• Brainstorm together for concrete next steps and at the end ask permission to give extra ideas if you have them. Link the actions to the learning process
• Combine negative and positive observed feedback. This helps the receiver to feel at ease and will be more willing to accept negative feedback.
Be careful not to weaken the feedback by using the positive feedback to sugar-coat the negative points.
• Remember feedback should be about 2 or 3 issues max. More than that you risk the loss of focus
• Ask for feedback – how did the session go, what can be different and what was the gain of the session
• Follow up

Feedback is not a one-fits-all process, you need to bear in mind who is receiving the feedback and why. Remember: a good mentor (coach, manager and leader) will offer honest and constructive feedback. A great mentor will ask feedback in return.
Do not forget the goal of feedback is to support the growth of your client, employees and or team so the session does not always have to have a happy feeling.

When do we give feedback?

Since feedback has a purpose- growth, development, achieving goals and changing behaviour and or developing a skill, it is most effective when it has a goal and is issue-focused. Feedback can be given to direct reports, teams, students, when working with the results of an assessment or personal development plan. Advisors can support their clients by using a feedback format when giving advice or reviewing actions.

Tips for receiving feedback

• Listen to what is being said – rather than thinking what you are going to say
• Ask for clarification if you feel you did not understand something
• Assume the feedback is intended to be constructive and not a personal attack
• Take time to think what you want to respond or ask
• Ask for specific examples, and be open to receive them
• Ask for suggestions and actions how to improve and do things differently
• Ask for support – be specific
• Respect the feedback and take what you can use
• Thank the person who just gave you the feedback