How To Give Feedback Successfully
Giving feedback can be unpleasant for everybody involved if it’s not approached in the right way, so here’s how to give feedback successfully.
Remember why you’re giving feedback
We are taught from our primary school days that ‘if you don’t have anything nice, don’t say anything’ and ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. This is all quite confusing to take on board as a child – as in one stance, you are not allowed to say anything other than niceties, whilst on the other hand, whatever you say doesn’t hurt anybody. Let’s face it – neither of these are true. Words can hurt, but sometimes things which don’t fit under the ‘nice’ bracket need to be said. And no, not to be mean, but so the person can improve on their work. Giving feedback nicely therefore is the way to go. But how do you do that, you may ask?
How to give feedback
Feedback should not be:
- Telling someone how terrible they are at something
- A way of scrutinising someone’s personality traits
- A power trip
- Belittling and abusing
- Ending in bitterness and awkwardness
- Not met with a clear line for improvement
Feedback should be:
- Broken down into manageable steps. Telling somebody they need to redo the whole display for example is far too vague and far too big a job. To avoid stress, be specific in making a few suggestions.
- Communicative before actionable. When I worked at a school, a teacher didn’t like a display another staff member had done and so ripped it all off the wall. It’s important to remember people’s feelings, discussion before action is always the key!
- Clear – Often when nerves kick in, people become vague. It can leave the person leaving the meeting wondering what it is they are meant to be doing. Having clear targets will help this process for all involved.
- Trackable – ‘You need to be less lazy’ may well be true, but realistically it’s an attack on somebody’s character which isn’t professional or helpful. Instead, having targets such as ‘Joe Bloggs will make sure that all frames are back on the display after every patient’ is a manageable and trackable target and gives a clear outline for what it is you actually want them to do
- Should be caring. Making sure that your feedback comes from the heart, will leave the person feeling valued rather than just another cog in the system being churned through. Take the time to ask them how they feel everything is going, what they want to achieve, what they feel they can do better, what they feel they’ve been particularly good at, what they’ve enjoyed. Taking time out to listen is crucial as after all, a good working relationship is a two-way street.
- Supportive. Can you offer them training? A mentorship? If so, let them know they are valued enough for your money and time to be invested in them. At SightCare we offer staff training which may be beneficial – click here for more information
- Reciprocative. Be willing to seek as much feedback as you give. Perhaps the reason they keep missing meetings is because they are ill, over-worked or stressed. Think about how you can help them to overcome these obstacles
- Done in private. Always give constructive feedback privately – it’s not professional to air problems with individual behaviours during work hours or team meetings. I was once in French Connection and heard a staff member shouting at a colleague that they had left a rack untidy – this is uncomfortable for everybody involved to listen to
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