Many a good debate has been had over whether it is harder to give and/or to get constructive feedback. I am not sure if it is the American culture or human nature that makes us uneasy regarding constructive feedback. I know my family never has a hard time telling me how my behavior needs to improve! However, when it comes to people we work with it becomes a much more difficult thing.
Giving feedback… (The Hard Part)
Provide feedback in an on-going conversation. Let me say it again, providing feedback happens all year. Messaging and messages are better understood when the dialogue is continuous. I don’t think you can ever “over-communicate”.
Try to link broad concepts to a specific example. This means you have to do some pre-work: identify the behavior, make notes of a couple examples, and present in private.
In the book “Crucial Conversations”, it shares the idea of creating a safe environment for someone to receive feedback. Specifically, when giving difficult feedback, you have to start by setting up a safe environment for the receiver – or they won’t hear the feedback. Why go to all the trouble identifying the feedback if you don’t ensure the receiver hears the feedback.
The trickiest part? Checking your emotions at the door. If you do not set the tone and tenor – the message is lost. If you are earnest in your efforts to honestly serve your staff and communicate in a way that helps and not hurts – then you are doing it right.
Getting feedback… (The Harder Part?)
- Have an open mind. You may not always agree with what you are hearing.
- It is important to listen, to work to understand, and to do your own self-assessment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity. Ask “if I did X instead, would that be an example of improving the behavior?”
- Do not jump to conclusions – focus your energy on understanding and then improving.
- Recognize we all have room for improvement, and be thankful someone took the time to share a way you could grow.
- And the trickiest part? Checking your emotions at the door. We all have them. If the person providing the feedback is earnestly trying to help you, this is a good thing, accept it in that view and move on.