5 Principles of Effective Feedback

In a literal sense, we define feedback as “a reaction or response to a particular process or activity.” For meaningful feedback, you should focus on the connection between the activity and its resulting reaction. Unfortunately, you can’t always find that contextual connection in the real world, but this CIO.com post suggests ways toward functional feedback in spite of this lack of context. In training or performance reviews, these five ways can ensure you’re getting effective feedback.

Plan your meeting thoroughly

When we say thoroughly, we mean more than the topics that you’d like to cover with your employee. It might not happen every meeting, but at some point feedback will generate an emotional effect on the person sitting at the other side of the table. Practice empathy and put yourself in their shoes: “How would this news make me feel?”
Basically, if you’re giving feedback to another coworker, often you’ll need to help them through it. Good news needs guidance as well! Even with promotions and positive team changes, your employees look to you for suggestions. Thoroughly planning for feedback outcomes will improve your company’s culture and productivity.

Be willing to listen

Good communication requires effort from both members of a feedback meeting. In this context, the person in a position of authority should always really listen. What does listening mean? CIO.com writes:

A good way to listen is to start off the meeting by discussing what happened. To discuss means that more than one of you is talking. It rules out you lecturing, talking at, or “briefing” the other person. So you could ask the other person for his or her version of events, and then ask questions to get to the heart of the matter, for example.

It’s all about respect. You’ll find feedback takes on a new dimension when it’s an involved conversation among all parties. Achieving this won’t happen overnight. It will take focus and work in the form of training, but you’ll see great benefits from it.

Choose the right time

Remember the earlier point about feedback being tied to its timely context? Well, you might want to slow it up just a bit. The most effective feedback has a nuanced delivery, time, and place. In all situations, the timing of the feedback hinges upon the severity. Annual performance reviews are generally expected events with rather predictable information, for example: performance over the past year has gone up or down and these are areas of improvement. This leaves plenty of options as far as timing of that feedback. CIO.com suggests a maxim to use in all aspects of your company: “The goal is to correct the problem; not to inflict pain on the person who is guilty of it… You’ll increase the chances of successfully fixing the problem if you make this your rule of thumb.”

Choose the right place

Place matters just as much as time, so your office isn’t always the best option. CIO.com writes, “Maybe it’s in a coffee shop. Maybe it’s on the job, out of earshot of other workers, or at the place where the problem occurred.” Wherever you deem comfortable, make sure you keep other employees unaware of the meeting. Especially if your feedback is on the heavier side, the last thing you want to do is single a person out away from his or her peers. Spectators and gossip can only complicate the situation. Remember, each opportunity for feedback presents a new chance to make a positive impact on your employees.
In some situations, online feedback can provide a safe place for employees to write out their thoughts to leadership. Many clients at Lessonly use our software to build Lessons with free-response questions so that they can gauge opinions and gather feedback. Will this place work for every instance of feedback? Of course not. But, for some, it does the job in an efficient manner.

Aim to make the meeting a win-win

As mentioned earlier, feedback is a two-way street. When employees do something good or bad, they should expect feedback from their leaders. This doesn’t mean that the leaders can’t encourage feedback from their employees. When companies uncover unforeseen issues, sourcing these ideas for change through feedback meetings between managers and employees really increases employee engagement and improves overall company culture. In this way, you’re really “correcting the problem, not inflicting pain.” If both the leadership and the employee emerge from a feedback meeting charged up to do better work, you’ll be surprised how much difference it will make on your company’s bottom line.

Ready to build a culture that thrives on feedback? Take the tour and learn about building Lessons that encourage engagement through employee-centric learning. Sign up today.

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