Providing feedback is no easy task. If you’re on the giving end, you must be prepared. A feedback session is meant to be a positive and illuminating experience for the receiver, but it can easily spiral into a critical and defensive exchange if you are not comfortable or familiar with the process. To be effective you must be tuned in, sensitive and honest when giving feedback.
Here are some important steps to ensure that your feedback is constructive and well-received:
- Be prepared. Put time and thought into your feedback by collecting examples that illustrate your points.
- Meet at an appropriate location. Make sure the feedback session is held in a private place that is free of distractions.
- Ensure the receiver is prepared. If you’re conducting a performance review, brief the receiver so that he or she has clear expectations. You may ask the receiver to prepare for the meeting by describing the objectives they have met, reflecting on how they think they have performed, and indicating any development needs or resources they need to help them perform more effectively.
- Reserve judgment. The constructive feedback should be descriptive rather than evaluative and focus on behavior that can be changed rather than on personality.
- Ask for feedback in return. Even if the session was difficult, it can be an opportunity to build bridges and show your willingness to learn.
- Keep your promises. If you have offered greater involvement in a project, expansion of work responsibilities or additional training, confirm this in writing and follow through.
- Lead by example. Don’t ask for something from others that you are not prepared to do yourself.
Honest and constructive feedback facilitates open relationships. If feedback is not communicated, issues can fester and get out of control. To avoid this, consider instilling a culture of instant constructive feedback which encourages employees to address issues when they come up rather than allowing them to turn into crises. This approach diffuses destructive or passive-aggressive styles of communication, and it can encourage an innovative climate.