How to Give Feedback that Actually Lands

Professional development isn’t just limited to learning new skills. In a fast-paced, rapidly changing corporate landscape, an individual’s commitment to improvement and growth is a critical factor, that’s just as important as strategic thinking, collaboration and communication. Feedback is a critical part of our development and provides us with specific things to work on behaviourally. The reality is though, that we don’t give or receive enough feedback.  

This is because as leaders we’ve all had experiences where team members reject, act out or get defensive when given constructive negative feedback making us second guess whether we should give it or not. 

“I need to give Josh feedback on how he handled that client situation, but every time I ask him to sit down with me, he gets immediately defensive and angry.” 

“I gave constructive negative feedback to Jane on the same thing multiple times now, and nothing is changing. She’s not taking on board the feedback and changing her behaviour.” 

These are all familiar statements that we’ve heard or said, and it can be difficult to continue working with someone if their behaviour isn’t changing or they get defensive. As leaders, knowing how to give feedback is just as important as knowing how to receive feedback. So how can you make this process easier for all parties involved, and ensure your message is heard, taken on board and actioned? 

At Corporate Edge, we believe feedback is a gift. We know the importance of having honest and open conversations about behaviours and their impact. As individuals, we also value the opportunity to learn, improve and grow, for our benefit, the benefit of our team and the organisation as a whole. 

Here’s our top tips when giving constructive negative feedback, to ensure your feedback is delivered effectively and is received in the right way. 

Lead with Context

Always ensure you outline the situation or context you’re referring to or providing feedback on. This needs to be clear and specific so the individual can relate their experience based on the specific situation.

Always Focus on the Behaviour

By focusing on the individual’s behaviour, means you are being fact-based and specific. You can clearly pinpoint what they did or did not do and relate it back to the wider impact their actions have.

Suspend Judgement

Hearing negative feedback can be hard, especially if it’s not common practice. As the person giving feedback, always suspend judgement and seek to understand. If something isn’t working, be curious and ask questions before diving into a feedback conversation. Use neutral language and show genuine care for the individual. You never truly know what their experience might be.

Acknowledge Positive Change

Once the feedback has been given and received, if you notice the team member actively altering their behaviour or changing their approach, be sure to recognise them for this! A simple acknowledgement goes a long way and ensures the individual feels seen.

Keep an Open Dialogue!

Don’t be afraid to seek feedback! If you feel like you can improve, start communicating this to your team members and ask for constructive feedback. This shows a willingness to improve and shows you’re comfortable with what they have to say. This has the potential to be reciprocated in turn, fostering a high-performance team culture.

Keeping these tips in mind will allow you to effectively deliver constructive negative feedback and will help to avoid awkward conversations that turn into bigger issues than necessary.

If you’re interested in learning how to give, seek and receive feedback, check out our online module here

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