When do you know that feedback is not working?

Use this Superbeings’ playbook to understand your feedback is adding value to the receiver and how to improve your feedback strategy for future.

To understand if your feedback is working, you first need to be clear about the goals you want to achieve with the feedback as well as how to provide feedback efficiently.

If the feedback is negative, passive-aggressive, or poorly planned it would become unactionable and demoralizing for the recipient. Resulting in poor employee performance and engagement.

Read this article to avoid such mistakes.

What are the signs of poor feedback in the workplace?

You can easily understand the effectiveness of your feedback if you are mindful of the following during or after a feedback session —

  1. Employee performance didn’t improve even after 2-4 weeks after the check-in
  2. The employee seems to be less engaged since the last check-in — could be due to feeling unappreciated or criticized.
  3. Employee behavior didn’t change as expected.
  4. The feedback was provided in a tone that was criticizing and demeaning to the recipient. 
  5. Employees didn’t understand the feedback/action steps are not clear.

What correct feedback looks like

When the feedback given is too long it becomes too intricate and hard to comprehend and loses sight of its primary goal. This mainly suggests that your feedback needs to be highly actionable and specific. 

The feedback must aim to enhance the competence of the recipients. 

Effective feedback needs to be — 

  1. The feedback needs to be concise and specific.
  2. It should be delivered in a timely routine.
  3. The feedback should be formed based on the data collected.
  4. Feedback should be constructed in an actionable form.
  5. Instead of just criticizing, it has to be corrective and constructive.
  6. The tone of the feedback should be guiding and non-judgmental.
  7. The feedback needs to be continuous or recurring.

Examples of what right and wrong feedback looks like:

1. Bad feedback

“We do not understand or like your delivery of the (specific) project. We would like you to change it completely.”

Instead try: 

“Your previous delivery was slightly confusing and (specific solution) is how you can improvise in this situation.”

2. Bad feedback

“Your attitude while communicating is inappropriate and is reducing customer/client satisfaction.”

Instead try: 

“Your performance is improving but your communication is a little hasty. How can we help you improve on that as an organization?”

3. Bad feedback

“Your skill-set seems inadequate for our organization’s work and is causing hindrance to our progress.”

Instead try: 

“How can we help develop and enhance skills that are appropriate for your progression in the current role?”

4. Bad feedback

“All your deliverables are never submitted on time, it cannot work out like this”

Instead try: 

“We have some concerns over the punctuality of your deliverables. It would be great if you could specify how long it takes you to complete certain tasks, so we know that we are not overburdening you with a lot of work”

Importance of offering the right feedback

  1. The right kind of feedback helps in making the objective/ expectation transparent and corresponding actions clear; helping employees reach the goals faster.
  2. It also helps in developing new skills or improving the existing ones of the employees.
  3. The communication during the feedback helps create a friendly and open working environment.

How to give feedback the right way:

I) Prepare your points of discussion in advance. Go through performance and old reports to make sure you know your talking points and focus areas.

Ex. “As per our last meeting, let’s quickly catch up on the progress of the tasks decided.”

II) Actively listen to the person you are in discussion with. Be open to hearing their side of the story before you offer any input.

Ex. “What are your thoughts on the issues arising in the progress of the (specific) project?”

III) Ask and assist them in areas where they seem to be lacking and don't judge or criticize them instantly.

Ex. “How can we as an organization help you?”

IV) Maintain a positive attitude so the recipient doesn’t feel anxiety, stress, or fear. 

Ex. Start your conversation on a lighter note with “How are things going in your life?”, “As I see that you have been working towards improving your performance/reaching your goals faster, let’s discuss the progress?”

V) Being transparent and clear in your feedback would help recipients get a clear picture of their future path. 

Ex. “We came across some issues with your previous delivery. Here are some (specific) suggestions on how you can overcome these issues.”

Final Thoughts

  1. All the employees in the organization require feedback. As a manager you have to hold your leadership responsibilities and deliver constructive, personalized feedback.
  2. Determine the type of feedback to give in each case based on your purpose, the severity of the problem, the recipient's willingness to personal improvement, and the organization's culture. 
  3. Go through the things you discussed after each feedback exchange and assess if you took the correct path. 
  4. Apply what you've acquired to become more efficient in the future.
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