Feedback is important – both giving it and receiving. Here are some essential tips to make it work better for your business.
Feedback is important for job performance as it gives you an indication of what to do better or differently. Usually managers think they are giving feedback, but staff usually feel as though they are not receiving it.
In the past, and still in some businesses whose practices remain in the past, feedback has remained the task for managers to give their subordinates. It was seen as a “downward” task that might only happen when a mistake is made, and often only at an annual performance appraisal.
Today more and more businesses are using the opportunities to implement 360-degree feedback systems, informally or some even more formally as part of the appraisal process. It makes sense because it is feedback from various sources for a person’s work, and often the manager is not the best or only person to provide feedback. It can come from other team members, one’s own staff or even customers and clients.
Managers giving feedback to staff
Managers are often uncomfortable with giving feedback, yet we know how important feedback is. Positive feedback has a direct effect on morale – makes people feel good, yet it is constructive feedback – or the so called “negative feedback” that improves performance.
What is 360° feedback?
It is about seeking feedback from all around you – everyone has a different point of view, and it can be very helpful for someone to get this kind of feedback to improve their performance. It gives a more accurate picture of what you are doing well and what you could be doing differently.
Feedback requires trust, and some organisations prefer to implement anonymous feedback – which they feel will be more honest. Sometimes this is true, but it also discourages trust.
Obtaining 360° feedback
Try and make feedback informal – make it a day-to-day habit, where everyone is part of a feedback culture. Encourage people to give each other feedback rather than referring it to a boss or worse still just talking behind someone’s back – not directly to them. The best way to create a feedback culture is to be a role model yourself and to encourage others to give you feedback, and also to have mini workshops or training in building feedback skills.
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There are some critical skills for giving feedback:
- Be specific and concrete.
- Avoid delays – give it straight after the event.
- Accept some responsibility – maybe you didn’t provide sufficient training.
- Don’t blame, be open.
We all need to welcome feedback, and adopt these skills:
- Don’t get defensive.
- Ask questions to clarify – what do you mean? What do you want me to do differently? How would you like me to change? May I have some examples of the behaviour/thing that I am not doing right?
Feedback can be useful for:
- Technical and manual skills.
- Interpersonal skills – such as working with others, service skills, presentation skills, negotiation skills.
- Conceptual skills – such as logical thinking, strategic processes, problem solving, planning.
Have fun and do it online
If ever you are offered the chance to participate in a 360-degree feedback activity – enjoy it – whether you are helping someone else improve through feedback or better still, getting some feedback for yourself.
Most 360-degree systems will give you the opportunity for self reflection through a self-assessment questionnaire, and then three to five other people can be invited to provide some feedback. This process is now available online, making it easy to do and environmentally friendly.
Eve Ash is a psychologist and co-producer with Peter Quarry of 360 Degree Feedback (from the Take Away Training Series). © Ash.Quarry Productions, and also the co-creator of the Skill Indicators – a set of 360 degree feedback assessment tools now online in several languages. www.7dimensions.com.au
To read more Eve Ash blogs, click here.