Feedback occurs when the environment responds to us, and we to it. At work our impact is fed-back to us via the people we work with, customers and the market. In nature this process is crucial in the evolution of all living things, and the workplace is no different.
High-quality feedback contributes to the evolution of others, poor quality feedback limits it. My own experience of receiving feedback throughout my career has been mixed. I have received incredible feedback that has peeled back my blind spots, and I have received brutal ‘feedback’ more than once. It’s a similar story for most of our workshop attendees, so whilst the thought of giving and receiving feedback is enticing, in reality ‘feedback’ carries a lot of baggage.
High-quality feedback has a rule of thumb… I can learn from it.
Typically, workplace feedback falls into four categories:
Praise: “Deb you are amazing, I love having you in my team.”
This is purely positive feedback that is appreciative, kind, warm and affirming. It’s great for engagement, but I don’t learn from it
Positive feedback: “Deb you have an ability to explain complex numbers really simply.”
Positive feedback helps to cement competence in others. This helps them develop strengths that can be leveraged across a team. I and we can learn from this
Constructive feedback: “Deb, I think the way you explained those numbers might have confused the client. What do you think?”
Constructive feedback helps me to explore and understand gaps so I can close them. I and we can learn from this
Criticism: “Deb that was a terrible presentation. You flunked it.”
Criticism is purely negative comments that’s judgemental, re-active and diminishes us. In the school yard it is called bullying
We recommend aiming for Constructive and Positive feedback 80% of the time, complemented by 20% praise. Done well, Constructive and Positive Feedback serve to
- Generate self-awareness
- Provoke reflection
- Encourage responsibility and action
This is how you use the inherent inter-dependence of your workplace wisely and contribute to growth and evolution of others
Try giving constructive and positive feedback to one person a day. Practice it for a week, you could help seven people learn.
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