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Feedback Essentials: The Art of Giving and Taking Feedback

Kenneth Chenualt, CEO and Chairman of American Express, rightly pointed out that regular feedback is one of the hardest things to drive through an organization. Without a doubt, it is an imperative quality of an effective mentor. However, HR personnel and managers across industries have been dogged by the conflicting question: How can feedback, both positive and negative, be conveyed in a manner that would only improve an employee’s performance? Can a mentor deliver constructive criticism and yet make sure that the mentee is not de-motivated? Or praise a mentee in a way that ensures sustained increase of his/her outcome? How can the employee take feedback to heart professionally and still consider it as nothing personal? What gives feedback a longer shelf life, add value to the organization, and bring real change?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, as each organization performs in a distinctive dimension and every employee within it is unique. It is, however, possible for HR and managers to make the most of feedback by developing a clear understanding of why feedback is essential, what makes it a rigid entity to be delivered, and how to essentially implement technology to bring a tired performance-management process back to life.

With the development of mentoring techniques, there has been an often misapprehended notion that feedback is only required for employees in need of serious development and grooming. Interestingly, researches reveal that incompetent individuals in a workforce are often too incompetent to even analyze their incompetency. Sadly, this holds true for talented employees, who often go without realizing their true caliber. The reality is that everyone needs feedback.

Constructive developmental advice is the most imperative facet of feedback as it helps someone perform better. In Rocky IV, a great Hollywood movie, Rocky changes the mindset of Russians with an inspirational speech towards the climax. Good mentors employ the same construct in a real-time work environment, but here they mold the mindset of an employee and improve performance through constructive feedback. While doing this, they make sure the work expectations and performance objectives are clear. They ensure that they have all the sufficient details, such as job descriptions, notes, memos, and a clear perception of the idea of the change they would like to see occur. They create a conversation that incorporates the other person's input.

Though delivering feedback is made difficult due to certain organizational structures, it also depends on human nature to a large extent. On many occasions, the immediate boss may not be closely involved in an employee’s day-to-day work and organizations are simply not set up to encourage and document feedback from others. However, a good mentor can always reach out and start off in an upbeat manner. S/he could listen actively to each response, make a suggestion or request, and then check for understanding. S/he constantly check for the receiver's understanding of the suggestion/request. Finally the mentor can enable the employee to reach a commitment on next steps.

The pain point in traditional performance-appraisal systems is that the feedback comes too rarely, too late, and from a few people. MentorCloud has been changing this equation and is shaking up traditional performance reviews in a big way. The strong network of amazing advisors, collaborative clients, and fantastic friends that include HR and managers at MentorCloud have been helping one another in the pursuit of professional and personal aspirations. Join us in our vision of building a mentoring planet.