Feedback

by Paul Matthews

Common questions

  1. When should I give feedback?
  2. Why is feedback important?
  3. How can I give constructive feedback that isn’t taken in the wrong way?
  4. How can I receive feedback so that I don’t appear defensive?
  5. Where can I get more feedback about my work?

 

1. When should I give feedback?

The best answer to this question is that feedback should be given immediately that an event or behaviour has occurred. That way, the incident or action is fresh in the person’s mind. If you take a long time to get around to giving feedback, the person may have forgotten the issue that you are talking about, so it will be more difficult for them to understand what you are talking about.

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2. Why is feedback important?

Feedback is an essential performance management tool. It helps people to learn and develop. Positive feedback helps to show people what they are doing right and to reinforce their positive behaviour. It motivates them to continue acting in that way. On the other hand, constructive feedback is useful as a learning and development tool. If you are never told what it is you are doing wrong, it is much harder to learn and progress, and you will most likely keep making the same mistakes.

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3. How can I give constructive feedback that isn’t taken in the wrong way?

It can sometimes be difficult to give constructive feedback that is taken on board by the recipient and used for learning and personal growth. You need to step back and think about what you are saying and how you are saying it, so that it does not make the person feel angry or defensive. Neither of these emotions will help a person to learn. Constructive feedback needs to be balanced and objective. It needs to be given in a timely fashion. It also needs to be given with clear examples of incorrect behaviour or actions. Generalisations should never be made.

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4. How can I receive feedback so that I don’t appear defensive?

Try to think of it like this: until proved otherwise, the person giving the feedback is trying to help you not harm you. If you start from the pretext that the feedback is a personal attack, you will begin to feel angry or hurt, rather than really concentrating on what the person has to say and why it is important. Always consider feedback as an opportunity to learn and develop.

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5. Where can I get more feedback about my work?

For those who crave feedback and want to continuously improve, there are places where you can find constant feedback. Feedback is available informally as well as formally. You should become aware of people’s body language, their facial expressions and their off-hand comments. You should also become accustomed to going and seeking out feedback from others. In other words, actually ask them for feedback, as well as evaluating your own performance on a regular basis and assessing what you could do better next time.

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