Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback

22 Mar ‘23
5 min
Work performance
Lisanne van Marrewijk
Gecontroleerd door Psychologist Eva Rüger
Many companies believe that they have a good feedback-driven culture. The reality often looks different. A study by Randstad shows that feedback meetings with employees only take place once a year in most companies. However, both sides can benefit from this. Regular check-ins and constructive feedback contribute to the employees’ development and the company’s growth.

 

A strong feedback culture has many benefits. But how do you do it right? What is the best way to give feedback and which methods have proven successful? In this article we’ll give you tips on how to create a positive feedback environment.

 

 

Why is it important to give feedback?

 

Employees want to receive feedback on their performance. We need feedback to grow and to learn. It improves work performance, guides expectations, and ensures that the focus is on the individual contribution to the success of the company. Therefore, feedback sessions are an important tool for employee development. However, many companies underestimate this. A study by Forbes found that 66% of employees would quit their job if they did not feel valued.

 

From this we can see that appreciation and performance evaluation in the workplace have great power. It significantly supports the development of an organisation. But – many managers do not use this tool often enough. And if they do, it’s often only negative feedback that is addressed. Positive feedback is rare. Good performance is often taken for granted.

 

Companies with a strong feedback culture have a competitive advantage against others. They are able to drive innovation, promote creativity and generate a positive workplace environment.

 

How to create a strong feedback culture?

 

It is important for a thriving feedback-driven culture to have resilient employees. They should have the ability to adapt to a changing work environment. Only then will they be able to give and also receive feedback.

 

A strong corporate culture creates an environment of continuous and supportive feedback. Regular feedback sessions with staff and a constructive give and take are important for this. People shouldn’t feel that they just have to take the feedback they’re given, but also feel that they’re allowed to give feedback to their superiors or colleagues.

 

First of all, it’s good to be aware of why it is difficult to give feedback. Many people find it uncomfortable or do not know how best to go about it. From this, managers can figure out the right methods that drive a successful feedback culture. On top of this, you should create an environment in which employees and managers can trust and rely on each other. If people are afraid of negative reactions or possible consequences, they won’t be likely to provide feedback.

 

 

Why giving feedback is hard

 

There are many reasons why, from a psychological point of view, it can be hard for us to give feedback. The prevailing feeling is usually fear. We are afraid, because we do not know how the other person will react. Can the person deal with my feedback or will they feel offended? Of course, we do not want to hurt anyone intentionally. Or we are afraid of possible consequences. If we have offended someone with our feedback, this person might take it personally and then ignore us or treat us differently.

This fear is especially common in feedback sessions between managers and employees, whereby employees may feel nervous about feeding back to their managers. There is also the fear that superiors may not be able to use the feedback or will not take it seriously.

 

It’s therefore often easier to avoid conflict. This may work in the short term to maintain harmony. In the long term, however, it isn’t good at all. Emotions can build up and unpleasant situations can arise. But often it is also because we don’t know how to give feedback to someone or when the moment is right to do so. Have a read below for tips on this!

 

Managers as role models

 

When developing a feedback culture, it’s important that the team leaders also live and act according to it. They play a key role in its success. On the one hand, managers should give feedback regularly and invite employees to feedback sessions. On the other hand, managers need to also seek feedback from colleagues about their own performance. It is a constructive give and take.

 

Feedback promotes company growth. It promotes co-operation in teams. Also, it provides guidance for each individual. Employees know where they stand, what their strengths and weaknesses are. And what they need to work on plus where they did a great job.

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How to give feedback?

 

One thing is certain, we all need feedback. It provides us with guidance and validation. Well-formulated feedback guides us in the right direction. It validates our behaviour and acknowledges our successes. Every one of us needs this kind of validation to feel appreciated. We should therefore view feedback as something positive and formulate it as such.

 

Good feedback should be:

 

  1. Motivating: your comment should motivate the other person to take action. Either to continue in the same way or to change something. If you don’t choose your words well, they can have the opposite effect. The person is then more likely to feel demotivated.
  2. Constructive: feedback should always be constructive. With your feedback, you want to help the other person to continue to grow. Without this, the person will find it difficult to act on the feedback.
  3. Reflective: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you react? What would you like to hear? Which words would motivate you, which wouldn’t? 

 

 

Feedback methods

 

 

Many companies use classic forms of feedback. This includes feedback sessions between employees and managers. In this model, managers provide their employees with feedback on their work performance. In turn, employees are then allowed to provide their managers with feedback on their well-being within the company.

 

However, this method falls short in many aspects. After all, managers are not usually involved in the day-to-day work of their employees. Companies with a strong feedback culture therefore use a modern approach: the 360-degree feedback method.

 

The 360-degree feedback method takes a look at people from different angles. This method offers a better insight, because it gathers feedback from multiple perspectives. Co-workers, managers and other stakeholders will all provide feedback. Colleagues who work together on a daily basis will often be in a better position to evaluate each other.

 

In addition, this 360-degree approach also includes a self-assessment. How do employees rate their own performance and achievements? Do they agree with the opinions of others or is there a big gap? This also provides managers with a meaningful picture of each individual.

 

 

5 rules for feedback

 

Good and constructive feedback should follow some rules. Only then can the other person receive and process it in the best possible way. These five rules will help you to give feedback:

 

Be specific

You should formulate your feedback as clearly and concisely as possible. The other person needs to be able to understand your feedback. If the problem is, for example, poor time management, do not say that the whole project is going badly, but specifically highlight the issue is meeting deadlines. Be as clear as possible about what the problem is and what you expect the other person to do now.

 

Solution-oriented

When giving feedback to someone you should also be able to suggest a solution. Ideally, you should find a solution together that you are both happy with.

 

The right moment

Choose the right moment to give feedback. This is important in order to give the other person time to process and respond to what they have heard. If you want to give feedback outside of the scheduled feedback sessions, it is important to prepare the other person and open the conversation by announcing that it will include feedback.

 

The right environment

The environment is just as important as the timing. Feedback should always be given in a secure environment and without any audience. After all, you do not want to embarrass the other person.

 

Looking forward

What happened is in the past. It is much more important to look towards the future. This is the only way to promote growth and development.

 

Integrate a feedback culture in your company

 

If your company does not yet have a feedback culture or if the feedback that is provided is mostly negative, you need a careful strategy to develop and introduce it. It can often be helpful to involve an external party. Particularly given the new ways of working (e.g. hybrid and remote models) this can be quite a challenge for managers. OpenUp is a helpful tool that can guide you along the way. Find out how.

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