The Importance of Feedback, Positives and How it can Help us Improve

Workplace Productivity
Published on
January 22, 2021

Feedback is not an evaluation or advice. It is a specific piece of information that tells you how you are doing vis-a-vis a goal. Feedback can be of two types – the one you give to another person and the one you receive from someone. It is about speaking to people about their performance and how they can perform better. But there is a problem. You may think that telling people what you think of their performance or telling them how to improve is the way to go, but it can backfire.

There is a school of thought that says, telling people your opinion about their performance is not going to help them excel or thrive. And telling them what aspect of their personality they need to improve is an exercise in futility because it may end up hindering their performance. 

But the problem may be this. When feedback is not delivered in the right fashion, it encourages people to avoid it, by raising their defenses and stimulating their fight or flight response. Some psychologists go as far as to say that leaders must encourage employees to focus on their strengths rather than dwelling on their weaknesses. 

However, there is a flaw in this line of argument. Asking people not to address their weakness is one of the biggest reasons individuals fail to perform. Even if the individual is great at other things, one unaddressed problem, for example, excessive aggressiveness, inability to be a team player, can derail the entire progress that the individual makes in other areas of his personality. 

Yet, feedback is essential. Here are a few reasons why feedback is necessary. 

  1. Feedback is a byword for effective listening

When you speak to someone else, what are the two things you look for? One, you want to ensure that you've been understood. Second, you want to ensure the other person has got something of value from your conversation. And giving feedback involves both these aspects in some measure. Take them out, and you'll find that the listener will quickly become irritated. 

  1. Feedback is necessary to improve performance 

Many people feel that feedback is an attack, and they have good reason to believe this. The way feedback is delivered most of the time leaves a lot to be desired. Yet feedback should not be construed as criticism. It is a kind of support intended to tackle underperformance and take your performance to another level. That is why the way you deliver feedback is so important. 

  1. Feedback is always there 

If you ask people when they receive feedback, they will remember their appraisal or a disciplinary meeting. But the truth is, feedback is always there. Every time we speak to someone, we are communicating feedback, whether in the tone of our voice, the language we use, or how much we are willing to listen- communicating how much we trust, love, or hate the person we are speaking to. It is not possible to not give feedback. If you think you are not giving or receiving feedback, it means you are not communicating correctly. 

  1. Feedback is essential to continue learning 

When you work with other people, it is possible that sometimes, you may not understand what someone said, or to assume it incorrectly. It is also possible that what you said may be considered impolite or even confusing. 

But understand that it is only an opinion. It is not a judgment on you. You don't have to accept everything someone said to you. At the same time, you need to control the communication by putting your line of thought across and give your take on it. In the long run, this will help you put your differences to rest and work better. 

Since you can't escape from giving feedback, whether it is positive or negative, you have to find a way to deliver negative feedback that minimizes the threat response. Let us see how to do that. 

Delivering feedback effectively

There are a few things you can do to ensure your message is passed on effectively. For example, don't pass a judgment. Instead, give an observation by referring to an example, if possible. 

Use appropriate body language when you provide feedback. Your body language can convey a lot of hidden signals and you have to be careful about how your body behaves. Don't become accusatory, and don't try to pass on useless things as feedback. 

As much as possible, avoid using 'you.' Instead, use 'I' as much as possible. Be mindful of the setting when you give feedback. Don't ignore your mentee when he or she is talking, and don't be close-minded. If you do these things, you can be sure that the process of giving and receiving feedback becomes easy.

MentorCloud is engaged in helping organizations discover the advantages of virtual mentoring. We welcome you to find out for yourself how virtual mentoring can help you and your organization improve your performance.

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