Giving Meaningful Feedback

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There are many ways feedback can be given. In my last article, I shared a few ideas to provide coaching to a person’s behavior or skill set. But what about the day to day feedback loops? Its part of the job to make sure you are helping your people with work that is turned in. It may also be your job to help your colleagues with work they need to turn in. Either way, this feedback should be taken seriously. If not done correctly, you could end up steering them wrong or possibly even offend the person more than helping.

Someday, feedback will be required, and you need to be good at it. So I’m going to share a few things to think about when approaching your feedback on someone’s work product.

Stop and Think

Do not just throw feedback on someone’s project. Understand why they did what they did first. This is incredibly important. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions and say “you should do x differently” but that’s a worthless statement if you have no idea why they did it in the first place. Perhaps they did what they did on purpose in order to achieve some other hidden goal. Start by asking “what goal are you trying to drive to?” This is a something that so many people do incorrectly, and it devalues the coaching given.

Start with the Positives

Always start with what you like. No one enjoys only hearing constructive feedback. List out everything you wouldn’t change and reinforce those. This will help the person be more receptive to your critical feedback. Adding value can be as simple as saying “I wouldn’t change x, its great!”

Know the Situation

When is this due? What level of “perfection” is needed? Is this creative or formal? All of these are examples of questions you should have answered before you give feedback. If someone wants you to proofread a paper hours before it gets shipped, now is not the time to say you recommend a different topic. However, if its a presentation to land a big client, extremely critical feedback might be the key to success. No matter the situation, your one goal is to make sure you are giving the person confidence that their outcome will be positive.

Stay on Point

If someone asks you for feedback on a logo, feedback on the tagline might not be welcomed. This is a frequent occurrence. Despite the person giving the input having the best of intentions, it’s not always as constructive as they would think. In that example, there could be so many reasons that someone might not be ready for or even want feedback on the tagline. If you get asked to give feedback on something explicitly, try not to deviate. If you are unsure, just ask “Would you like feedback on x as well?” That is a safe way to confirm you can provide that value you think you are providing.

Be Clear

This should never happen: “I don’t like x .” What is the requestor supposed to do with that? That is not helpful and only creates doubt in the person asking. Provide context as to why it doesn’t sit well with you. You don’t need to solve the problem for them, but an “It reads weird” or “It doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the project” can be amazingly helpful.

Try to remember, if people are asking for your feedback, they are saying they value you and your skills. It’s a compliment. So treat it like one. If someone asks you for feedback take it seriously and cater your thought to helping them be successful. If you have not noticed by now, that is what being a leader is all about.

I hope you enjoyed the read. As always leave me comments below and you can follow me on social media @ShaunHallTalk. Thanks for reading!

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