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Monday, June 12, 2023

Focus on Feedback Instead of Criticism

Getting feedback on both a personal and professional level is critical to an individual’s development and advancement. However, if the feedback is done incorrectly, it may sound like criticism.

This can damage the relationship between the leader and the follower, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The person in authority must recall that there is a clear difference between criticism vs. feedback. Namely, criticism is damaging and hurtful. There’s nothing positive in it. In contrast, feedback is beneficial, useful, and constructive.

So, what’s the distinction between feedback and criticism?

Criticism is judgmental. It’s all about pointing the finger and accusing the recipient of something negative. It’s about condemnation and saying, “Look what you did wrong.” Moreover, there is usually an assumption made concerning the motives of the recipient. As a result, there’s the connotation that the recipient’s worth as an employee and as an individual, is “less than.” The employee’s superior who criticizes often comes across as authoritarian, condescending, and arrogant.

In stark contrast, feedback can be motivating and even inspirational. It doesn’t overwhelm the recipient with negativity and revolves around issues that can be changed. Feedback is never intended as an attack, but rather to inform. The person giving the feedback has the opportunity to gain the perspective of the recipient and can be incredibly motivating when willing to help the employee reach or exceed expectations as part of a “team effort.”

Now that you know what effective feedback looks like, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty—how to actually deliver constructive feedback with as little pain as possible.

Follow these oure steps to give valuable feedback:

Step 1- Ask if You Can Give Feedback

  • “Communication is what the listener does.” – Peter Drukker
  • Respects the individual, and their situation
  • If someone says “No” twice, then the ask turns to “I need to talk to you.”
  • Starts with: “May I give you some feedback?” or “Can I share something with you?”

Step 2- Describe the Specific Behavior

  • Descriptions should be about behavior not the person
  • Descriptions about behavior need to be as specific as possible
  • Starts with: “When you…”
  • Avoid starting with: “I think…”, “I feel…”, or “I’ve noticed…”

Step 3- Describe the Impact of the Behavior on Self or Others

  • Describe the consequences (positive or negative) that result from the action
  • Impact could be self or others- focus on the one that is most impactful to the individual
  • Starts with: “Here’s what happens…”, “The impact of your actions are…”

Step 4- Next Steps

  • Feedback is about the future not the past.
  • This step is the most critical. What is it that you want the person to do differently?
  • The solution should come from the individual, not the manager.
  • Starts with: “What can you do differently?” or “Thank you, keep it up!”

Giving effective feedback is key to building strong teams and high-performing companies. That’s why so many organizations focus on creating a culture of feedback.

Positive employee feedback and constructive feedback can:

  • Boost employee loyalty
  • Strengthen team bonds
  • Promote mentorship
  • Improve performance
  • Increase employee engagement

In fact, Gallup found that when managers provide weekly constructive feedback, employees were 5.2x more likely to strongly agree that they receive meaningful feedback and 3.2x more likely to strongly agree they are motivated to do outstanding work.

Bottom line: When and how you give feedback matters. So make it count.

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