Feedback is an essential part of a healthy company and also one of its largest challenges. Some people don’t like giving feedback, some don’t like receiving it, and not a lot of people know what constructive feedback is. Let us explain a bit more about it and what the steps are to give and receive feedback.

giving feedback

What is feedback?

First of all: feedback is a gift! The term ‘feedback’ is used to describe the helpful information or criticism about behavior or a prior action of someone, communicated to that person so that he or she can use that to adjust and improve current and future actions and behaviors. So, it’s is a good thing. It helps people, teams and companies improve!

Why is feedback important?

Let’s state that everyone wants to improve his skills. That’s human nature: to always get better at what you do. Besides a self-evaluation, learning what needs improvement requires feedback from other people. It gives you insight in your behavior, and it reminds you that you’re not alone in this world.

Giving feedback

Giving feedback is a delicate situation. It has to be done right if you want it to be constructive. You don’t want to insult or attack people personally, so be careful choosing your words! There are 4 steps to respectfully do this:

  1. Start with an observation of the situation from your personal perspective: “I’m seeing/hearing you do/say this …”
  2. What is the effect on your feeling and/or behavior: “This gives me this … feeling and that’s why I do this ….“
  3. Give space for the opinion of that person: “Do you recognize this?” OR “what do you think of this?”
  4. Offer help and/or advice.

For example: “Hi Jane, I noticed that you haven’t delivered a project in time for the second time this month. It makes me feel a bit stressed because it’s slowing down the team.Do you have any thoughts about this? Is there anything I can help you with?”

Giving feedback this way helps you retain respect in the relationship and give space for other opinions. It focuses on describing rather than evaluating. Be specific and focus on behavior and not on the person. This way, it will not evoke any defensiveness from the other person and sets a constructive tone for the conversation and relationship.

Receiving feedback

Receiving feedback also has its challenges. It’s not hard to receive any feedback in the way it’s described above. If feedback is presented differently you might get defensive and be less open to a conversation. What you can do in that case:

  1. Ask for clarification and use follow-up questions
  2. Make a summary of what’s being said to avoid misinterpretation
  3. Demonstrate appreciation of the situation: “It’s clear to me” OR “your intentions are clear.”
  4. Share your own opinion: “I think…”, “I have heard of this before”, “I agree” OR “I disagree, because…”, ”what I’ve learned from this…”
  5. End with a follow-up: “This is what I’ll do with it…”, “I’ll take it into account the next time”, “I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do.”

This way you can solve a lot of problems that arise in a workplace. With these tips, you can ensure a safe environment where you can help each other thrive and share feedback.

Good luck practicing, and remember, feedback is a gift!

Want to learn more? Check out How to handle different personalities in your meeting and 4 great group decision making methods to help you and your team work better together.