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  • Héctor A. Venegas

how to give effective feedback

We have to give feedback to the ones we work with and the ones we live with all the time.

At least we should.

As all of us have been on the receiving end of feedback, we know how bad this sometimes is prepared and given. Not many do seem to have the right skillset to do that. So, we end up receiving badly conducted feedback, which will most definitely demotivate us, instead of motivating us to change our behavior.

If we turn the perspective and put ourselves on the sending side of giving feedback, how can we make sure, that we have the right skillset? Let me walk you through some important points:

Let’s start with the meaning of feedback in general: What is it? What does it include?

Feedback is not advice, praise or evaluation. Feedback is information about how someone is doing in effort to reach a goal.

We have to focus on the goal and the way we can reach it.

This means, when we are giving feedback to someone else, we have to take into account the goals she/he is trying to reach and compare it to the status on the way towards the goal at this point.

As Simon Sinek says, “Start with why”. Therefore, we should start with asking ourselves, why we do give feedback.

Giving feedback only makes sense, when we want to discuss the efforts of the other person towards reaching this specific goal. When we want and can offer some suggestions for improvement and support the other one’s performance.

This of course can never work, when we do it harsh, critical or even offensive.

You will reach way more, when you are positive and focused on a common goal.

Feedback has to happen in a timely manner. The time is usually NOW! At the moment that you have realized that the situation is not supporting the goals and the other person needs your feedback in order to get it done. The faster you do it, the easier it is for the receiver to accept it.

Although it has to be done timely, any feedback has to be prepared well. It has to be given specific and as unemotional as possible. As soon as emotions are part of the conversation, you should consider having a break, going for a walk and continue later, when the emotional aspect is reduced.

Going for a walk is actually pretty good for a feedback conversation. Way better, than sitting at a table for a one-on-one meeting. When you walk side by side with the other person, you are giving feedback to, the mere action of walking towards the same direction shoulder to shoulder, supports the “we are in this together”-feeling and thus the outcome. Further to that it ensures, that you are alone with the other person, which also helps as it builds up trust.

When giving feedback, make sure that you focus on the facts and not on opinions you might have, or even worse, someone else might have.

Chose your words as positive as possible and prepare some positive feedback about the performance of the receiving person as well as the negative aspects, which you would like to change. Make sure that the positive aspects are as important to you as the negative ones.

Be sure to actively listen to whatever the other person has to say. Active listening is yet another skill, that you should master, to be able to build up trust.

When suggesting some changes in behavior or performance, make sure to make these changes specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed using the SMART formula.

Therefore, you have to agree on following up at a set time somewhere in the future.

Feedback is always a two-way-street. So, whenever giving feedback, make sure also to ask the other person to give some feedback back to you.

Lastly, never wait until you have negative feedback to prepare, start giving positive feedback as much as you can. We all receive dozens of hours of negative feedback per year but only a couple of minutes of positive feedback. Step out of that line and be the one giving positive feedback. It will come back to you!

Try it! You will see how it works!

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