Feedback is about telling the other party what consequences their behavior has for us or for others, and what our expectations are. It is not about evaluation or criticism, but about building a common ground for mutual development. These beneficial effects of being able to give one another precise feedback are of exceptional value, especially in professional relationships. In addition, they have a positive impact on the atmosphere in the team and determine high efficiency in the field of cooperation.
Why would you provide any feedback at all?
Let’s illustrate why feedback is so important.
There is a seemingly romantic story circulating on the Internet. The husband and wife have been together for 30 years. Throughout this time, she’d cut a piece of fresh bread for her husband every morning, sharing with him the most delicious part. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But there is more to this story – on the 30th wedding anniversary, the wife thought: “I have been a good mate for years, maybe today, at least once, I will keep the heel for myself” and gave her husband a buttered slice from the center of the bread. Imagine her surprise when her overjoyed husband exclaimed, “You gave me an incredible gift today, my love! For 30 years, I have eaten heels so that you could eat the tastier part of the bread!”.
How much more pleasant their mornings during these 30 years could have been, if they had given feedback on their actions and their own needs – each of them would have enjoyed what they liked the most.
It’s worth talking about. But how should you say it?
The most common communication problem we face in professional contact is the need to provide negative feedback. How to do it so that the recipient correctly understands the intentions of the feedback and that he or she is not sorry?
In the beginning, you should consider the purpose of the feedback provided. What do I want to convey? Why is it important, and how will it benefit the other party?
There are several reasons for negative feedback. First, there is a desire to improve the results of your work – if you want a colleague to develop through it or to fix their shortcomings – you can’t keep the comments to yourself. Secondly, the willingness to improve relations within the team – communicating what is important to you in your working relationship will increase its value and quality. Other reasons may be the improvement of operations, the development of independence, the ability to delegate tasks and define responsibility, i.e. the development of subordinates’ competencies.
To minimize the risk of potentially hurting the other person, define your intentions and make them transparent at the beginning of the conversation. We should never engage in a conversation while our emotions are exploding.
The second important element is the preparation and technique of the interview. The course of the discussion determines its effect.
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Giving feedback has many benefits. To sum it up:
- Makes the recipient aware of how others react to his behavior. Consider whether you have ever learned anything about yourself from someone that you were completely unaware of. For example, your interlocutor told you that you looked threatening, and you were only thoughtful.
- Increases knowledge of what to do and how to do it, what are the expectations on the other side. It allows you to see if the chosen direction is correct or if it needs to be changed. Thanks to a regular conversation, we do not waste time and opportunities that we can use during work.
- It makes the recipient feel noticed and aware of something that seemed obvious or unworthy of attention. Thanks to this, the motivation to act is strengthened.
- Improves relationships because we share our insights, get to know each other and act more effectively.
In addition, giving feedback is important even when we think the other party knows they are doing everything right. Lack of communication is not a positive behavior. We may think that if we do not raise objections, then everything is fine, but a colleague may perceive the situation completely differently. Let us not rely on guesswork and assumptions, but on facts. If someone is doing something right, they will know it when we communicate it to them.
Providing feedback is just one area of communication, which in itself is a vast but fascinating topic. Some of its techniques and tools, useful on a daily basis, will be described in the next episode of the #StrefaLider cycle. Our team helps clients improve the competencies of their employees, develop organizational culture and build efficient and effective teams on a daily basis. If you want to find out how we can diagnose problems in your organization and prevent them, please contact our experts.
This article was written by Joanna Kucharska – Chief Human Resources Officer at Sii Poland and an expert in the area of HR in our BA & BPO Competency Center. She has 15 years of experience in leading business processes connected with retention and HR support, including onboarding, management training, career advisory, objectives management, exit interviews, and integration. She uses all of her experience to support Sii clients in the area of HR consulting.
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