Feedback is an important component to how we all learn. So, if it is fundamental to our development, why is it that not many people are good at it!
It is almost as if we are expected to be good at it, as though it is a natural ability we have. Well, maybe it is and we've simply unlearned what we knew when we were five years old, as I'm sure we freely gave feedback at that age.
What did we do then that we don't do so much now? Perhaps the answers are in these 7 principles of feedback:
- Timing Is Key: Feedback is always most effective when given as soon as possible after the behaviour has occurred. The immediacy helps to reinforce a correct behaviour and make it more likely to happen again. At the very least, it is highly desirable to give corrective feedback before the situation occurs again.
- Seeking Self-Feedback: By asking the person for self-assessment involves them in the feedback. It promotes an open atmosphere and dialogue where feedback is the norm. The person is almost always aware of his or her own strengths and weaknesses, so it is far more effective to allow the person to voice opinions before providing your own assessment. By seeking self assessment, the person will more readily assume responsibility for his or her own abilities and performance.
- Be Specific: When you focus on a specific correct or incorrect behaviour, you remove the feedback from the sphere of personality differences and the other person will be more willing and able to change.
- Focus On What Matters:Identify one or two critical areas and help the person address them one at a time. It is too hard to examine and try to change many aspects of behaviour at one time. Restrict feedback to one or two important points so that you do not overwhelm the other person with too many things to consider.
- Provide More Praise:Positive reinforcement is one of the strongest factors in bringing about change. Unfortunately a lot of people always focus on what goes wrong! When you give corrective feedback, remember to point out corrective behaviours first. This is as important as pointing out mistakes and areas that need improvement. And always end the conversation on a positive.
- Recognise The Expected: People deserve to be praised for behaving to the expected level. However, too many people take the expected level for granted. Remember that praising anyone who meets established standards is as important as praising the exceptional performer.
- Encourage Change: Work together to identify the desired change and how it can be achieved. Decide together when the changes will be accomplished.
Now, on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is poor and 10 is excellent) rate your performance against each of the principles above when providing feedback to your team and colleagues.
Finished? What do you notice? Is there any one principle that is particularly stronger than the others? What do you do that makes this so strong?
Which principle is relatively weaker than the others and what can you possibly do to strengthen your performance? When can you start to exercise your feedback skills in this principle and with whom?