Feedback: 7 Tips to Keep in Mind for Giving Meaningful Feedback

As managers of people, it is your accountability and privilege to provide those on your team feedback. They say, “feedback is a gift”, which I genuinely believe. If we only have information that supports our view of ourselves, we wouldn’t have any fodder to grow!

The purpose of feedback is for growth and development. It is not to cut someone down or highlight their imperfections. With this great honor also comes responsibility to understand people, their motivation, their strengths, and what skills are critical, nice to haves, and just your preference for the role people are performing. Before giving feedback, it is important to really know those you are giving feedback to. Ask people what is important to them, what their values are, what they value in their work. These are things you want to know about the people you manager. After all you became a manager to serve people. Right? If not…. Let’s talk…

A few things to consider when building the foundation to give feedback.

1) Ask. Ask people how they want feedback. Let people share how they will be able to hear and respond best to the point of view you are providing.

2) Be open. Ask your team for feedback on yourself. Build a culture that walks the talk, where feedback is about growth and development and everyone has growth opportunities. It fosters a psychologically safe environment when the surround sound reflects a growth mindset.

3) Share your viewpoint. Share your purpose for feedback. Why is it important to you to be able to give it and receive feedback? No, it isn’t just the company policy or your job….

4) Speak second. Let people tell you what they think is going well. What areas they know they need to improve on. It makes for a smoother dialogue.

5) Be specific. If you have difficult feedback to give, which we should at some point since no one is perfect and we all have room to do better, be sure to use specific examples and the impacts of their actions you observed. No one wants to hear generalities. Not only is it unhelpful, but because it feels (and is) vague people won’t be able to incorporate it or try something different in the future.

6) Use emotion. I have heard people say, “it is business, leave your emotions out of it”. I don’t think I can express how opposed I am to this. Emotional Intelligence includes using your emotions to have the impact that you want in conversations. How do you want to feel? How do you want the other person to feel? This is the difference between being a leader people remember fondly versus someone they once worked with. Emotions may also be relevant to the feedback you need to provide, as the persons behavior may have an emotional component as to how they have left others feeling.

7) Consider culture. Make sure what you are giving as feedback doesn’t have a cultural implication. For example, “you need to make eye contact with people.” Maybe that is not part of their cultural norms and is not authentic to them. I won’t spend anymore time on the Equity, Inclusive, and Diversity, as I am far from well versed on this topic, but it is an important one that we should all be educated on.

Being in a position to give feedback is a gift. When done correctly giving and getting feedback can have a profound impact on ones career, skills, self-worth, motivation, as well as building stronger more trusting relationships. I hope you take as much care in doing this part of your job as you do in the functional demands. Giving and receiving feedback with positive intentions and a growth mindset makes this part of the job less scary.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve.” ~ Bill Gates

Published by rachaelsarahgass

Working mom, wife, friend, sister, organizational psychologist, learner, coach. Kindness Counts. People First. Integrity Always.

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