Feedback isn’t always a gift. Feedback, when properly and thoughtfully delivered, becomes a valuable gift. However, giving great feedback isn’t easy, and in my experience, many people end up delivering it poorly or not at all.
When I worked in retail, I clearly remember a manager who would only give me feedback when I made a mistake or when it was time for our reviews. They would sometimes tell me things like: “good job” or “well done today” but after awhile it just felt insincere and hollow.
On the other hand, I had this other manager, the one that helped me progress in my career. They were amazing, constantly giving me feedback, both positive and sometimes negative. There was always a reason behind it, it was specific, heartfelt and it really helped me grow and develop.
Here are 3 simple yet powerful ways to deliver feedback in a meaningful way:
1. Be Specific
General positive feedback like “good job” and “great work” is fine, but it rarely has a lasting impact. It’s a perfect complement to specific feedback but on its own it can quickly become meaningless. General negative feedback on the other hand can be soul crushing. Comments like “that didn’t work” or “you came across badly” doesn’t help anyone, it just crushes peoples’ spirit, so don’t use it, NEVER, EVER!!
On the other hand specific, descriptive feedback, both positive and negative is meaningful, it gives us direction on what to keep doing well, and how we can improve.
2. Avoid the feedback sandwich (💩)
You’ll often find that people who use the feedback sandwich (positive feedback wrapped around negative feedback) don’t regularly give constructive feedback. Maybe they are trying to avoid conflict or soften the blow and sugar coat what they perceive as ‘negative’ feedback.
If you often share feedback, mostly positive, and you build trust and rapport with your colleagues, when it comes to sharing negative feedback it’s easier because they’ll know it comes from a good place and that you truly have their best interest at heart.
Another danger of this technique is that people often only hear what they want to hear, so they might remember the bread and not the 💩.
3. Always check your intentions and emotions
We’re human, so it’s only natural that our emotions and how we feel about people shapes our feedback. Try to be as objective as possible, don’t let how you feel about the person get in the way of you delivering important and meaningful feedback.
Sometimes when something significant happens, and you feel annoyed, upset or even excited, it’s often better to take some time to calm down, check your feelings, and then deliver your feedback in a more considered way. Remember: words are impossible to take back.
My last bit of advice is: give feedback as much as you can. Regardless of your job, everyone appreciates recognition and guidance for improvement. Giving effective feedback requires practice, and the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. So, keep at it!
If you’re keen to learn and practice delivering powerful feedback, check out our fearless feedback session!