The need to give feedback is inevitable. Why?
Because at the heart of feedback is the need to address and fix a problem.
While the objective seems simple enough, giving feedback is not. How it is delivered has significant consequences.
Delivered well it can create a sense of belonging, a commitment to change, and success for an organization.
Delivered poorly it can result in conflict, workplace toxicity, and high turnover.
Knowing how to give feedback well matters.
Challenges to Giving Feedback
To successfully give feedback, it’s important to raise to the surface what the challenges are to giving it.
Here are some common and significant ones:
• Giving clear, specific, relevant, and timely feedback
• Underestimating the value of positive feedback
• Dealing with difficult emotions, assumptions and biases – yours and theirs
• Communicating it in a way that acknowledges the receiver’s human dignity
• Being perceived as exercising your influence rather than providing feedback for improvement
If this sounds familiar you’re not alone and it’s not your fault.
There is a power dynamic at play and integrated into workplace structures, policies, and procedures. It is inherently problematic and has led to the call for applying an EDI, anti-racist, intersectional, decolonized approach for all businesses.
This power dynamic is having power over people. It influences actions, words and behaviours.
In this context, feedback looks like:
• Being right is more important than getting it right.
• Inducing shame
• A need to fit in versus belong and
• A resistance to change
Here’s the thing, even if your intention is not the above, if you struggle to give feedback successfully (i.e. it’s accepted, appreciated, and acted on), it’s important to get curious about the approach you’re using and learn how to tweak it to achieve the ultimate objective: to address a problem.
How to Give Feedback Well
To give feedback well, you need to shift from a power over approach to a power with and a power within approach.
This means accepting that the feedback process is a conversation – not talking at someone.
In addition to addressing a problem, it’s an opportunity to dialogue and collaborate on solutions, encourage innovation, and encourage shared ownership of what contributed to the problem as well as how to solve it.
With this new understanding, take time before you offer feedback to follow this checklist:
• understand the situation
• identify solutions
• check your assumptions & biases
• name the desired outcome for the discussion
• be clear on your boundaries
• be clear on how you will create psychological safety and
• ensure conditions are in place to co-create solutions
Taking the time to reflect on your process for offering feedback and following the outline above to prepare to give it will help you deliver it well.
Want more guidance and support?
For team support, contact me to learn about my 2 trainings: Mindful Communication and How to Give, Receive and Act on Feedback. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 1-on-1 coaching help, learn about my coaching package here and then book a free needs assessment to discuss how we can customize a plan to help you mindfully communicate, reinforce your boundaries and successfully self-advocate!