Care for your Career – How to give feedback

When feedback is given properly it should improve both
motivation and performance, writes Nathalie Towner. Without regular
feedback work can deteriorate as it is an essential part of
developing staff to let people know how they are progressing.

If it is done well it can either encourage staff to keep up the
good work or let them know what they should do differently next
time in their work.

Although it is a great opportunity to communicate how you feel
about someone’s work, most of us are guilty of putting it off. We
are either terrified of making the situation worse and simply hope
it will sort itself out or believe good work is the norm, so there
is no need to acknowledge a job well done.

The effect of feedback

If someone is underperforming and doesn’t receive feedback they
will never know they need to make changes, let alone how they
should go about it.

Feedback is an essential way of realising where your strengths
and weaknesses lie and it’s important to get a perspective from
someone else,” explains Rebecca Clake, adviser for the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development.

“It is far healthier to work in an environment where people can
give feedback as this avoids feelings being pent up.”

When to give it

The best time to give feedback is immediately. If you wait six
months for the annual appraisal, your comments will lose their
impact and performance may have suffered unnecessarily in the

“You could set up an agreement to give regular feedback after
events such as presentations,” says Clake.

“If you have already agreed to have a conversation about how it
went staff won’t feel defensive.”

Be precise

Sometimes there is a danger of being too vague and failing to
get the message across. If you are vague, people won’t feel they
should give your comments much consideration.

According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
report managers often fail to be precise using such phrases as “I
want a big improvement,” or “I’d like to see more initiative.” Many
are also guilty of diluting praise with comments such as: “That was
quite a good effort, for you,” which will just confuse the

Recognise good work

If someone has just done a great job and receives no feedback
they won’t feel as motivated next time. “Feedback reinforces good
behaviour,” says Clake. “It is important not to take someone’s good
work for granted otherwise they might not bother next time.”

Feedback on poor work

Most people will be aware if they have not done a good job. Ask
how they think the task went and try to end on a positive note.
This approach won’t work if the individual is not very self-aware,
so you need to tell them what you expect from them. In both
instances focus on what can be done differently next time.

Don’t get emotional

Clake points out there are various degrees of formality when
providing feedback. “It can be done through an appraisal or formal
meeting or you can encourage all staff to give it to each other so
it is an ongoing process.”
You should avoid turning feedback into a personal attack.

“Keep your remarks factual and objective,” advises Clake. “You
don’t want to be emotional and tell someone they let you down but
rather explain what happened and why it caused a problem.” If you
give the right feedback it shouldn’t happen again.


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