This topic comes up time and time again. I am constantly asked how best to give developmental feedback.
Some people avoid feedback at all costs, some only ever give good feedback (praise – another topic altogether), and others do the opposite, and only give developmental (bad) feedback. Some give the feedback in the wrong manner, while some plan it out and get it just right.
Let’s first look at the issues involved in not feeding back or only giving good feedback. What happens here is that there is no personal growth for the individuals involved. This is just not fair. Everyone deserves to grow on a personal basis. If you only ever get good feedback, then you may actually start to believe you have nothing left to learn. This stifles personal growth too.
There are many ways in which people feedback in the wrong manner
- Not planning a proper feedback session
- Choosing the wrong time or wrong place
- Not investigating all the facts from all sides
- Taking too long to get to the point – procrastinating
- Not considering the impact of the feedback on the individual
- Hitting the person too early and/or too hard with the feedback
- Bringing in feelings
- Being vague
- Not providing help or support for the individual moving forward
- Leaving it too long after the event happened
- Rushing the feedback to hit deadlines
- Lack of respect for the person involved. We don’t need to like who we work with, but we do need to respect their thoughts and opinions.
And countless others.
So how do you get it right every time?
There is only one way – by PLANNING.
- Plan where, when and how you will deliver the feedback. Have all the facts and specifics from all areas. Make sure you give enough time and respect to the individual concerned.
- Timing – Always try to feedback as close to the event as possible. Make sure it is appropriate timing.
- Ask the individual for their point of view on the event first, before discussing the facts.
- Listen very carefully and take notes if necessary, to help your recall of specifics. Make sure you re-phrase back what you think you’ve heard them say, allowing you to make sure that your understanding is right. Don’t move on until both sides agree on the meaning of what’s been said.
- Stick only to specific facts. Avoid hearsay or how you or others may feel about the feedback. This is the biggest mistake people make: using subjectivity. There is no place for subjectivity in developmental feedback; there is only room for fact.
- Be clear and direct with the facts. People deserve that.
- Together look for ways forward – If it is a skills gap, then set up training. If it is behavioural, then set up a plan of learning between both of you. You both may want to involve another person who can help the individual with the changing behaviour – possibly a mentor?
- Review progress by looking for the new behaviour and making sure you encourage the progress. Comment on the positive!
- Always remember to give good constructive praise consistently, along with the constructive developmental feedback you give consistently.
- Consistency is a big key to all of this – to always – with everyone – be factual, and focus on development, rather than only feeding back when you are fed up with the same problem or issue arising.
Creating a motivational environment is all about people feeling good about growing and developing in a fun environment, and there is no better way to grow than through feedback.
When you use clear, factual feedback consistently – with everyone – and you are open to it yourself, people will thrive on the development.