Most of us feel a bit uncomfortable when we know it is coming but the reality is that feedback is a gift! Whilst it can be confronting, it creates awareness and helps us grow in many, many ways.
Constructive feedback promotes development and growth, both professionally and personally and allows us to know how others are experiencing us. Providing effective and honest feedback stems from a need to add value to others and builds trust and mutual respect.
First, we need to define feedback and how it’s different from criticism.
Feedback isn’t criticism. That’s the difference. Criticism by the nature of the term, will always be taken personally by the individual who is receiving the comments. Feedback is different because it is about behaviour, and it is “constructive”. We should never critique a human, let’s leave that for inanimate objects such as art.
“You’re always late for our team meetings showing you don’t care and it’s really letting us all down.”
This statement feels like an attack and it can be taken personally.
Instead, try an alternative approach:
“With the past four team meetings, you have been late by at least half an hour. This has meant that we have had to back track to bring you up to speed on what has been discussed so that we’re all on the same page. Please ensure that you arrive on time so that we can get the best outcome from our team meetings.”
This alternative approach stated facts over opinion and offered an opportunity for the individual to rectify their behaviour. It isn’t criticising, judgemental or negative, it was objective, to the point and focused on behaviour. This anchors the feedback and gives the individual a chance to redeem their behaviour.
So, why is feedback so important in a professional setting?
The reality of work is that workplaces can be tricky. Different personalities, opinions and backgrounds all have the potential to cause friction, if we let it. Minor issues between individuals can be quickly dissolved with good communication and honest feedback.
For a team to be great, [read our Top Three Non-Negotiables for a Great Team] there must be psychological safety, which is the starting point for feedback. The individual receiving the feedback, must feel safe and open to hearing the impact their behaviour has.
By have these objective feedback conversations, we invite improved performance, greater team bonding, vulnerability and an increase in respect and trust between team members.
What are the benefits of effective feedback conversations?
1. Improve Performance
Honest and open feedback conversations about an individual’s performance brings awareness for the individual on their behaviour that they may have not known about. This is important in both letting others know what they do well and as well as what they can change. Quite often we fall into our natural behaviour patterns, especially as we get busier. Behaviour change falls to the wayside, and sometimes it’s a little nudge that brings that awareness back and improves performance once again.
2. Reduces mistakes
Keeping a feedback loop throughout any kind of teamwork or collaboration, reduces and potentially avoids major mistakes that were avoidable. High levels of communication and feedback will keep individuals and the team as a whole, on track and performing at a high level.
For feedback to be motivating, it must be done with a friendly approach. It is about the feedback giver genuinely wanting to help improve the individual receiving the feedback. It motivates them to be aware of their performance, so that they can actively make the change. It is a caring feedback approach towards a team member or leader that motivates the individual to reach their goals quicker.
4. Allows Vulnerability
Research on vulnerability in the workplace [read our blog here] has proven that showing emotion fosters a connection with your team and co-workers, creating a sense of trust and vulnerability and you can’t have trust without vulnerability. By having great communication that fosters a great feedback culture you can encourage others to open up and be honest with themselves, their behaviour, their performance and the impact.
5. Improves communication
Great communication is what keeps a team evolving and growing and supporting each other. A foundation that can be sometimes overlooked for a great team. A feedback conversation creates an opportunity to continue the feedback culture. It is this constant loop that will enhance your team conversations, productivity and foster high trust for a high functioning, effective team.
Remember, feedback doesn’t always have to be negative. Positive reinforcement is another crucial element in giving feedback and improving people’s behaviour it allows others to know what they do well to ensure they keep doing it.
Here’s a small task you can try today.
Set aside some time with a team member to talk through something they did really well recently. Comment on why it worked, how it impacted you/the team and the overall contribution it will have to the business. Thank them for their time and know that you have potentially started a great feedback culture.