One of the most prominent American business literature authors, Ken Blanchard, once said: „Feedback is the breakfast of champions“.
The best tool you have
The truth is, when done correctly - honest feedback is your best tool in performance improvement. When you think of it, all of us receive feedback every single day – in almost every conversation we have with people around us.
The way your friends respond to your ideas, the opinion you have about your friend's outfit, the evaluation you get from your boss or business partner, the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of your client after the project is done – every type of two-way communication is basically feedback, and a chance to see yourself with a different set of eyes.
The purpose is what makes feedback great
The purpose of feedback is not to criticize (at least it shouldn't be), but to motivate the receiver to perform better. That's why we refer to it as constructive feedback – because it gives us the opportunity for constant growth and improvement while ensuring the satisfaction of all parties involved.
The importance of two-way communication is often overlooked, which is one of the biggest mistakes in the business environment – because honest feedback brings us enormous benefits, both in terms of client satisfaction, and in terms of improvement in our business process.
In Devōt, we recognize the importance of open communication on every level – between our employees, between employees and senior management, and between clients and project managers. Except for being a part of our business culture and making our job a lot easier, regular honest feedback is one of our biggest motivators.
The ultimate motivator
A happy and productive employee is the one that realizes their role in the company and the value they add to the table, but at the same time understands the expectations of their job description and goals they yet need to reach.
It is the manager's and leader's duty to make sure every single employee understands where they stand regarding their performance, as well as to motivate employees to grow professionally. The best tool in managers' hands regarding their employee's growth is adequate feedback, which means every leadership role should imply an ability to deliver effective feedback. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
There is no universally „right way“ of giving feedback, but there are some universally applicable characteristics – it should always be constructive, specific, and progress-oriented.
How does it benefit your business environment and culture?
One of the most valuable aspects of constructive feedback is its ability to create a nurturing environment where every individual feels empowered to grow professionally and constantly improve. The sooner you realize that honest two-way communication is crucial for growth – both in terms of individuals and the company – the sooner you'll start to work on your feedback skills.
We think of it this way: if our employee knows that his performance isn't aligned with the company's vision, he will be motivated to improve it and reduce stressful situations in the future. The leader needs to be able to communicate his expectations clearly for the employee to understand the full scope of his position and avoid any communication noise.
Finally, one of the most significant benefits of honest feedback is building trust, respect, and loyalty between employees and management and between employees themselves. It can be a great tool in building employees' confidence and ensuring better leadership skills for the management.
How to give constructive feedback?
So, how do we in Devōt implement the tools of giving constructive feedback? By following a couple of recommendations:
- Just be honest: constructive feedback should always be honest, direct, positive, and aimed at improvement – not criticism.
- Always be specific: you should base your feedback on performance, attitude, behaviour, and results – not on personal traits of the employees. That way it will be received easier and with a positive attitude.
- Substantiate: every time you can, your feedback should be corroborated with specific examples of wanted and unwanted behaviour or performance.
- Time and place: the person giving the feedback should always be prepared, which includes choosing the right time and place – preferably face-to-face, to avoid any misunderstanding that can occur via phone or e-mail conversations.
- Prepare to listen: while giving the feedback, don't just „recite“ the facts you've written down; instead – listen to the person on the other side and be present in the moment. Being on the same wavelength is crucial for successful delivery.
- Suggest improvements: the biggest difference between criticism and constructive feedback is suggesting improvements that are doable in the specific situation.
- A two-way street: The person receiving the feedback might have a different point of view – let them express their opinion and bring their perspective to the table.
A skill that requires a life-long learning
Excellent, constructive feedback always implies good intentions – with the primary goal of making better decisions and improving performance in the future.
To conclude, what makes a feedback valuable growth tool? We would emphasize three points: it is based on observation instead of the interpretation of someone's work or behaviour, it is given in time to implement necessary changes, and it's based on specific situations, with recommendations for improvement.
Giving solid, objective feedback is not an easy task – it is a skill that requires life-long learning and perfecting. However, one thing is sure – every feedback allows us to learn something about ourselves. Therefore, once you accept one of the basic presuppositions of Neuro-linguistic programming – „There is no failure, only feedback “, the way you view improvement will forever change.
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