Valid feedback from others, when properly given, can make all the difference between success and failure on the job. Feedback can tell us what is working and what is not working. Essentially, feedback is an information we receive from others defining their perception of us in terms of our presentation, actions, or things we have said.
We may look at feedback as a bad thing, or something totally negative. However, when properly given and received, feedback is an opportunity to expand your understanding of the perception of others and use the feedback as a tool for achieving amazing results.
We receive feedback daily and from different sources. If we can understand it and use it, this feedback can empower us to communicate more openly and improve our performance in many areas.
When we give feedback, it is hardly ever verbal only – emotions, timings, location, body language, etc. – all these things contribute to how feedback is received. The intent of the feedback also matters – if you do not have a positive intent, the positive outcome is not possible.
More often than not the feedback received is not the pleasant one. One of the reasons why we tend to resist critical feedback, is that majority of our self-image is based on how others view us. When we find that someone sees us in a less than positive light, we may feel down, discouraged and even devastated.
In general, we like and we want to hear what is consistent with our own views and we tend to resist ideas and views that are contrary to our beliefs. But, if we knew that we were doing something ineffectively, wouldn’t we try to improve our performance? The difficulty is that when given constructive feedback, it implies that we could be wrong in what or how we are doing something and straight away we perceive it as a threat and most of us also tend to take it personally. It does really take an open mind to be able to listen to an opposing view, hear what was said and take it on board.
What we should also realise is that constructive feedback has two interactors or two participants – one giver and one receiver. It is not just something we must ‘take’, but something we can respond to and interact with.
Why do we give feedback?
There are five reasons why feedback is important, so let’s look at these.
Feedback is always there – if you ask someone in your organisation when feedback happens, they will typically mention an employee survey, performance appraisal, or training evaluation. In actuality, feedback is around us all the time. Every time we speak to a person, employee, customer, vendor, etc., we communicate feedback. It is quite impossible not to give feedback. Whenever we respond to another person, we are giving that person feedback. We may be reacting to any number of things:
- The way a person looks
- His or her actions
- Something he or she said
- Or a combination of factors
There are different types of feedback we experience: it can be valid feedback, unjustified feedback or a vague feedback. We may state our reactions to behaviour or performance verbally, through speaking or writing, such as email or we may react nonverbally, letting our body language speak for us.
Feedback is effective listening. Whether the feedback is done verbally or via a feedback survey, the person providing feedback needs to know that they have been heard and understood and they need to know that their feedback provides some value. When conducting a survey, always explain why respondent’s feedback is important and how their feedback will be used.
Feedback can motivate. By asking for feedback, it can actually motivate employees to perform better. Employees like to feel valued and appreciate being asked to provide feedback that can help formulate business decisions. And feedback from client, suppliers, vendors and stakeholders can be used to motivate to build better working relations.
Feedback can improve performance. Feedback is often mistaken for criticism. In fact, what is viewed as negative criticism is actually constructive criticism and is the best type of feedback that can help to formulate better decisions to improve and increase performance.
Feedback is a tool for continued learning. Invest time in asking and learning about how others experience working with you, your team, department or your organisation. Continued feedback is important across the entire organisation in order to remain aligned to goals, create strategies, develop products and services improvements, improve relationships and much much more.
Feedback is so important in the workplace and it is extremely important to give it correctly to achieve the results that you want. It is also important to know how to receive it to get the most value out of it. In my course Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback I have outlined the structure and the exact steps that you need to take to plan and deliver your feedback to increase your team’s or employee’s performance, keep them motivated and engaged, create amazing team and incredible workplace.