My little boy is extremely polite, to the point that he gives feedback which might not be clear in the real world.
Dad: Do you like the cake?
Boy: I like it.
Dad: That’s great, would you like some more?
Boy: No thanks. Bye. Dad: … ??? …
Boy doesn’t like the cake, but did not want to offend, hence, said he liked the cake, but did not want to have more of it. This leaves the dad with questions racing through his head of whether the boy indeed liked the cake, or he was too full to have more.
In the workplace, most people managers or peers tend to give feedback in 2 extremes.
- Talking down
- Too nice
Talking down is not great because the manager is treating the recipient like they are not worth enough, not clever enough, not adequate enough, etc. Talking down with stern authority and a deragotary tone, instilling fear which might most probably hamper growth.
Being too nice is also an issue, because the manager or peer gives feedback without the recipient actually knowing what areas to improve on. This usually comes in the form of a “sandwich” feedback, where it begins with a nice remark, followed by a vague description of the problem, and ends off with a MAYBE / YOU MIGHT LIKE to do this instead. Which makes the feedback difficult to understand.
The proper way to give good feedback would be to be direct and show care for the recipient. Feedback should also have a proper structure:
- Observation of the problem: What did you observe in the behaviour or action of the person that was a problem?
- Consequences of the problem: Explain how the problem action / behaviour might have resulted in a difficult or unwanted situation.
- Ask how could it be different: Ask the feedback recipient how they might have done things differently.
The best time to give feedback is immediately after the issue or problem happened, but depending on situation, it might also be best if all parties have “calmed down” from a very serious situation to be compose enough to receive the feedback.
At the end of the day, its really as simple as speaking from the heart and showing true emphathy and concern for your colleagues or peers.
Anyone you need to give feedback to?
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“Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column that combines 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.