Good communication is a rather stressed upon workplace skills and one of the most essential face to face communication skills is to master the art of giving and receiving valuable feedback. The reason why giving and receiving feedback is being referred to as art is because it is underlined by several techniques which make it constructive and meaningful.
If you have ever been in this bind before, you are likely to agree to the fact that no amount of technology can lessen the anxiety and awkwardness, employees and leaders are faced with during a feedback session. But looking on the sunny side, both giving and receiving feedback don’t have to be painful. Here are some sure shot ways to make that happen:
- The first step is to plan your feedback.
Planning an effective feedback is a three step process:
In order to let the other person understand you completely, you need to identify the exact areas which need expanding or improvement. Consider the following example:
Undesired behaviour (weak link) – unorganised submission of the daily reports.
Examples – Monday: report submitted late by 2 hours.
Wednesday: report not submitted.
Thursday: incomplete report with several pointers missing.
Expectations – timely submission of each report along with careful mention of significant proceedings and activities.
While planning your feedback keep a few things in mind. Be specific and crystal clear. Providing examples will strengthen your case but trivial issues do not need mentioning. Also make sure your expectations are reasonable and the recipient can meet your requirements.
- The second step is to give the feedback
While this may seem obvious, there are multiple sub steps to it.
- Pick the right moment – Make an appointment with the feedback recipient and choose a place with least number of distractions. Avoid carrying out a feedback session in front of other employees or co-workers. Choose a time when both of you are relaxed.
- Build a comfort level – Feedbacks can be mentally consuming. In order to put the opposite person at ease, you can begin with a casual conversation. Have the right tone throughout. Avoid making personal remarks. Address the behaviour and not the personality.
- Present your feedback – Your primary goal should be to boost the productivity of the employee. Begin by specifying the problematic areas which need reinforcement or redirection. Explain the positive outcomes it will have and do not forget to acknowledge their past achievements. Highlight their contributions to enhance their self-confidence. End the session by thanking the recipient for their time and use a statement like – “I hope to see the desired outcomes from you in the near future.”
- Receiving feedback can be broken down into a 3 step process:
1) Ask for details – In order to get a clear idea of your performance or shortcomings, ask for details. It may be possible that you are unaware of certain aspects which are coming up during the session. Ample details and specifications will help you get a better perspective.
2) Paraphrase – Misinterpretations are a major setback during feedback sessions. To make sure you are on the same page as the feedback provider, paraphrase what you have been able to gather, in your own words. Give the other person a chance to respond, in case they need to make any corrections, eliminate misunderstandings, or add new information.
3) Ask for suggestions – A feedback session is always incomplete until a discussion about the methods of improvement has taken place. Make it a point to discuss the future plans. If you are required to do things in a different way, then formulate a plan of action then and there. Do not forget to thank the feedback provider for their input.
HOW TO OVERCOME COMMON FEEDBACK DIFFICULTIES
- Addressing a personal problem – If an employee’s personal problem is coming the way of his or her performance, then pointing it out can be slightly uncomfortable. In order to not come across as insensitive, ask the employee to explain his or her current situation and if there is anything the management can do to help. Then go on to giving a performance review.
- Personality Clash – Everyone has different personality traits. While it may be slightly difficult to generate a reaction or explanation from an introvert, it will be comparatively easier to come down to a conclusion with an outspoken person. People with a short temper are likely to mess up the interaction while giving or receiving feedback. While, with a person who finds it difficult to engage in a dialogue, be patient and ask them for their perspective regularly. Make use of engaging statements like – “do you understand what I am saying? Or “do you have an explanation?” On the opposite end, you may face tantrums and yells wherein the most professional thing to do would be to stick to the process without losing your chain of thoughts and the right tone.
- Receiving unspecific directions – If you are being supplied with vague reviews like – “your performance yesterday was not up to the mark” or “something was missing yesterday” then do not hesitate to ask for details and specifications. Question, using statements like – “could you explain where I was lacking?” Or “could you give me an example?”
The purpose of feedbacks is to improve the future performance. Feedback sessions, when done effectively and regularly, can turn into major tools of problem solving. They also help to establish uniformity in the work environment. The basic idea behind this exercise is to form a supportive network of people for the betterment of the organisation and the elements which make the organisation. The above mentioned steps will help to change the common image of feedback sessions being perceived as dreaded attacks!