Banish Your Fear of Giving Feedback



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

According to a recent study by LinkedIn Learning, 75% of respondents believe feedback is valuable, 60% reported they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis and less than 30% said they actually receive feedback.

That last one is not a typo.

Feedback is hard – people could get defensive, we don’t quite know how to give it (or how to take it) and when it doesn’t happen it’s often not followed up on or given with action items, so it’s like giving someone an IKEA bed without instructions. You might figure it out, and you might get frustrated and throw a wrench.

Here are three tips for giving feedback.

Good and Bad
If you are only giving someone feedback when they do something wrong, feedback is going to be a scary looming monster on a professional – or personal – relationship. Think about it: you hear nothing until something fails. What will you remember? The silence leading up to it or the negativity?
When giving feedback, remember that it can be given when something is going right and when something isn’t going according to plans. I like a “glow” and “grow” idea – if something is great, tell them about this glow! What are they doing right? If something needs work, that’s a “grow” – it’s not a failure, just something that needs time to develop.

The side point here: make feedback a regular occurrence. It becomes part of your culture and life if it happens all the time, and that makes the negative feedback that much easier because it’s all part of the same system – not just something scary that comes up when folks are in trouble.

Specific and Immediate

This one is simple: when you’re thinking about giving feedback, don’t wait too long. If you do, you’ll end up either forgetting what it was for or not associating it with the behavior you’d like to either change or affirm.
The slightly more complicated side: it has to be specific. “You did a great job” is very different than “Your empathy with that customer was great, they seemed to feel much better after talking to you.” Being specific is HARD, and that’s ok! Start with the simple statement and give it the million question toddler treatment. What does great mean? What was great? Can you describe what they did that worked well to someone that wasn’t there?
The specificity works for negative feedback as well: if you aren’t clear and concise with what you want to be different – or what you’d like them to “grow” – then how will they know what to change and how to change it?

Plans Please
You’ve made feedback a regular thing! You’ve got specific, concise and immediate! And…nothing changes.

If you’re not following up the feedback with a plan and then following up on that plan, why would it get done?
Sure, we like to think we’re all independent workers in the remote day and age – but, sometimes we aren’t the best at accountability, which is why so many people look for coaches and trainers when they go to the gym. At the same time, if no one is giving you a plan to improve – or to grow – how can you? Many of us can figure something out on our own, but when you’re stuck in the trees it’s hard to see the forest.

If you’re giving “grow” feedback, take a moment to step back and also think of a plan, or at least a few action steps you can work on with this person. Even if it’s as simple as “let’s follow up in a few weeks to see how this is going” you’ve given them a point to work towards and a date to check in – which creates accountability.

Feedback doesn’t need to be a scary professional moment – use it to your advantage to rise above the status quo!

 


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