Feedback is a Gift

In our view feedback is a gift that keeps giving, because without doubt, it is one of the most effective tools for people growth.


Without doubt, constructive feedback is one of the most effective tools for business and people growth.


By this, I don’t mean the type of meaningless ‘how are we doing’ one-sided feedback regularly requested by retailers.  I mean the type of objective, mutually beneficial workplace feedback that effectively holds up a mirror so that individuals, teams and business leaders can see themselves as others perceive them.


Because, when people understand just how well they are doing in others’ eyes, or how they could do even better at something that is important to them, they are empowered to act on that knowledge. And when they do so, they invariably blossom, as do their organisations.


Most employees want and need some type of feedback from their line managers. In my experience, this can more than double engagement levels especially when delivered in the most appropriate way for the person receiving it.


But it still amazes me when I hear so many people say they receive only negative or only positive feedback at work, and even none at all; and when managers and leaders say they feel uncomfortable enough to avoid feedback altogether, even when it’s positive, and when they know deep down that they should share it.  For many, it can be, well, a bit awkward!



Conversely, when people realise that they can give and receive feedback in a safe way, it’s no longer frightening to them. It’s heart-warming to witness this. That’s why I share practical feedback techniques at the start of all coaching and L&D, and ensure it is used by participants throughout my programmes.


What’s worked brilliantly for my own clients, is when they start to share objective, consistent feedback, and then go on to empower everyone in the business to learn how to use it too. This ingrains the habit, barriers are broken down and genuine communication starts to happen. The results can be significant, not only in terms of engagement but also to the bottom line.


One thing to consider is that the motive behind sharing feedback has to be authentic; it’s so obvious when it’s not. As a rule of thumb, objective and fair feedback comes from the heart with a genuine desire to help – anything less is counter-productive.


Once the techniques are learnt, it will take practice to hone and embed them but is well worth the effort.


Here are my top 5 tips on technique:


1. Early in the relationship, establish preferences, e.g. will the recipient prefer feedback in private or in earshot of others

2. Use examples to accurately illustrate the point, i.e. what specifically went well or could be better

3. Express how you feel, e.g. “That made me proud, because…”

4. Be genuinely empathetic

5. Avoid use of the word ‘but’, flattery, sarcasm and comparison with others


Of course, using feedback day to day also needs to be done in the right way; rather than a running commentary, it’s about positive and objective reinforcement at appropriate times, in both informal and more formal settings.


Here are my top 5 tips on usage:


1. Ad-hoc (desk-side, on the spot)

2. Learning and development (induction, training, coaching, appraisals, one to ones etc.)

3. Team-building and development

4. Handling conflict, especially when opening tricky conversations with internal and external customers

5. Business development (using shared feedback to develop trust and deepen customer relationships)


“Since introducing the feedback technique through our appraisal process, our people feel they have a clearer understanding of their performance and how they can enhance it, both on a personal and professional level, for potential career advancement.”  

Isabel Bowman, HR Advisor, Pure Search


Feeling inspired to give it a try? I’d love to know!

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