7 Essential Guidelines to Giving Effective Feedback

Communication, Leadership,

Top performing companies are top performing companies because they consistently search for ways to make their best even better.

For these companies continuous improvement is not just a showy catchphrase. It’s a true focus based on feedback from across the entire organisation – customers, clients, employees, suppliers, vendors, and stakeholders.

As a manager, providing effective feedback is a powerful tool to have in your repertoire. For feedback to be productive and beneficial it must be of assistance to the person receiving it. It must be communicated in a way that ensures the recipient:

  • Understands the information you have communicated,
  • Accepts the information you have communicated, and
  • Is able to do something constructive with the information you have communicated

Plan your feedback to ensure that it meets these three key points.  If the feedback you give is only meeting your needs and not the needs of the recipient, then there is little positive benefit to be gained from it.

Utilise the following 7 guidelines to giving effective feedback:

  • Feedback must be impersonal, relating to job performance, behaviours and outcomes, and not to the individual person. You can achieve this easily by avoiding ‘you’ messages, such as ‘You did not complete the report properly’. Changing this to ‘I may not have shown you the correct report template to use for this’ takes away any perception of blame or accusation.
  • Feedback must be specificdescriptive and factual rather than general, and should follow as closely as possible to your observation of particular behaviours or performance. Scheduling regular feedback sessions will assist here, but don’t forget that informal feedback is as useful and powerful as formal feedback.
  • Feedback must be understood by the recipient. Use effective questioning and listening skills to ensure that your feedback can be categorised as meaningful communication.
  • Feedback should be planned to ensure that it does not generate emotional responses and raised defences. All your communication efforts must be focused on achieving positive outcomes for all, and on developing a High Performance Environment where respect for each other is the norm.
  • Feedback must only focus on those areas, actions and behaviours that the recipient has personal control over. If a task has not been completed to standard because of an issue with another individual, department or provider, your feedback should focus on how to overcome that issue, rather than focussing on the recipient’s inability to get it completed.
  • Feedback must be timely. It must begin when it is actually needed, or when the recipient is actively seeking it.
  • Feedback must be manageable from your recipient’s perspective. Ensure that you do not overwhelm them with information instructions and suggestions. Consider carefully what needs to be discussed, how it should be discussed and to what depth you will take the discussion.

Together with these guidelines and making a conscious commitment to give regular consistent formal and informal feedback, you will ensure that your feedback is effective and successfully achieves change and growth. Extracted from LMA’s High Performance Management.

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