Take 10: The importance of effective feedback & 10 top tips

Whether it’s explicit or implicit we’re always giving or receiving feedback, often when we don’t even realise. So, for the latest in our Take 10 series, we’re looking at the importance of effective feedback and have listed 10 smart ideas to help you and your employees achieve more.

Why is feedback so important?

Feedback helps individuals and businesses continuously improve. Businesses with an effective feedback loop – who do something, get an effect, and then get feedback – tend to be more efficient as employees are more engaged. Conversely, employees who receive little or no feedback tend to disengage from their work more readily. By cultivating an effective feedback culture your business will be in a strong position for long-term sustainable growth.

It’s important to encourage your employees to regularly ask for feedback to develop their careers and understand what’s working and what’s not. In a Harvard Business Review survey, 72% of those asked said they thought their performance would improve if their manager provided corrective feedback. Without feedback, it’s easy to keep doing the same thing, achieving the same results. The goal of feedback should be to either start a new behaviour, stop an existing behaviour, or continue a behaviour that’s working.

Employers and employees tend to shy away from feedback

Although we all know feedback, constructive or positive, can be helpful in progressing our business and careers, we tend to shy away from giving it. Even the word provokes a sense of fear as people expect the worst or some feel awkward receiving praise. When feedback isn’t handled well it can feel like a personal attack, and many managers fear the short and long term effects of giving constructive feedback.

However, if feedback from both parties becomes common practice there’ll be no surprises during appraisal season, and both sides will get more from their working relationship. Whether it’s good or bad, saying it will help your employee develop.

It’s all about the situation, behaviour and impact

Using the SBI model (situation, behaviour, impact) will help you give succinct and effective feedback. For example:

Situation: This morning during our weekly catch up meeting…

Behaviour: you came in 25 minutes late. A month ago we talked about how that can disrupt the team and you said you’d be on time in future…

Impact: this makes it very difficult for me as the team have lost momentum, they’re distracted and it sets a bad example.

Or

Situation: The round-up email you sent yesterday…

Behaviour: really shows you’ve gained a great understanding and passion for the product. I was particularly impressed with your initiative to use a pie chart to explain the concepts.

Impact: It’s very useful to keep the team up-to-date and explain some of the more technical items in simple terms. Keep up the good work!

Be specific about the behaviour which prompted the feedback

An important part of giving feedback is being specific about the behaviour aspect. When we start giving feedback, especially if it’s a difficult topic, it’s easy to talk around the subject or raise other unrelated items. We often assume people know what we mean. When giving feedback, behaviours should be observable facts which are clear takes aways. 

5 top tips for giving feedback

  1. Timely: ‘When you see it, say it’ – ideally within 48 hours
  2. Understandable: Give context, be clear and specific. Think about how best to approach your feedback with the individual
  3. Actionable: Discuss and agree on an action
  4. Dialogue: Have a conversation and ask questions, for example, ‘How do you see it?’ or ‘What are your thoughts?’
  5. Place: Think about the right time and place to give your feedback. Constructive feedback should take place in a private space, but positive feedback could be in public assuming that works for the receiver. It’s important not to give feedback when you (or they) are emotionally charged or distracted

5 top tips for receiving feedback

  1. Be open: Accept people’s thoughts and work with what they’re saying
  2. Assume good intent: Try to understand their point of view and don’t be defensive
  3. Embrace the opportunity: consider how you can use this feedback to develop or change
  4. Be curious: Ask questions, for example, ‘When have I acted like this?’ or ‘What could I do to improve?’
  5. Set actions or goals: Update the person on what you’re doing to improve

Go on, give it a go! Why not set yourself the challenge of giving and receiving feedback at least once this week?