Anyone has been on any kind of management training will, I’m sure, have been told about the virtues of giving good feedback. This makes it particularly surprising that in my years of experience as an HR Manager it is one of the things that seems to be most commonly lacking in workplaces.
Is it really that difficult to just be honest with people, tell them what you think, let them know how they’re getting on? Well…yes! Perhaps it is a side effect of living in a litigous society, where managers are worried about saying the wrong thing, or perhaps it’s a bit too touchy feely?
It doesn’t have to be such a terrifying thing! In my experience, and based on some quite solid empirical evidence, these are the key characteristics of successful feedback:
- Provide information, not opinion. Give examples and reasons for the feedback, not statements of opinion
- Be positive! Positive feedback has been shown to be far more motivational than negative. It’s all too easy to give feedback when something goes wrong, say when something goes well too!
- Acknowledge the recipient’s point of view – ask their opinion about how they are getting on, listen and acknowledge what they have to say and don’t be quick to make judgements before you have done so
- Be sincere – most people are incredibly perceptive and if your feedback isn’t genuine, they will feel it even if not at a conscious level
It doesn’t have to be a challenge giving feedback – most people really appreciate it and it will encourage a more honest and open working relationship.