Finance & Banking

HOW NOT TO GIVE FEEDBACK DR. SOFIZA AZMI

“The staff is saying you are always insulting them,” said
Hendry to Shaun.This is notthe first time Shaun has heard
such remarks from his CEO and he knows it won’t be the
last as well. “Don’t get me wrong,” Hendry explained. “I’m
just telling you what your team is saying about you.”

“Thanks for the feedback Hendry, but could you be more
specific as to a situation that I was said to have insulted
them or what were the words I used that made them feel
insulted,” asked Shaun. Hendry pondered for a while. “I
don’t have the specifics. They didn’t say and I didn’t ask”.

“Look Shaun,” continued Hendry. “This is what your team
has told me and this is what I am telling you right now”.
In fact, they say you take donkey years to review and sign
off any document they submit. They also say you create
problems than solutions.” Shaun felt offended. He had
always valued feedback but he felt that Hendry wasn’t
giving him the opportunity to clarify as Shaun believed
that the feedback he received was rather vague.

Feedback is an integral tool for communication and
facilitates productivity of a team. Giving feedback to
your colleagues and employees provides them with
an observer’s insight into how their performance is
progressing. But when giving feedbacks, more often
than not we find that we don’t get the results that we
are hoping for. The first thing to realise is that people
generally respond more strongly to negative events than
positive ones.

In this situation Hendry was right in giving his feedback
to Shaun, but the problem was that it was not specific
enough to allow Shaun to work on improvements. In fact
it was too ambiguous and had left the door wide open for
his feedbacks to be interpreted in a lot of personal ways.
Hendry’s case is not unique. Most of us don’t know how
to give effective feedback. Truth to be told, we are just as
bad at accepting feedback as giving them.
Bad feedback is not only ineffective but can be
destructive. However, giving good feedback depends
upon our ability to effectively and constructively present
our opinions to others. Feedback is more than a routine
part of working life; it’s a form of art.

When giving feedback, especially a negative one, it
should be reminded that people generally respond better
to specific feedback. Don’t beat around the bush. Specific
feedback is important to avoid any misinterpretation. In
this case, Hendry told Shaun that he insulted his team
members. But what does that exactly mean? Was Shaun
abusive, rude or made some offensive remarks? Opinions
or remarks are not always positive, but that does not
mean they are insults. Many times, negative comments
have constructive criticism behind them yet the person
receiving them feels like they have been personally
attacked and insulted.

When providing feedback to Shaun, Hendry should
avoid any general comments that may be of limited
use to Shaun. Instead Hendry should be more specific
in his comments by giving real and recent examples of
a situation(s) when Shaun was being insulting. By doing
this, Hendry is giving Shaun a much better chance of
improving the way he communicates with his team. Also
citing a specific behaviour that was observed allows
the receiver to place your feedback in context, making
it more understandable and therefore more likely to be
acted upon. If you are passing feedback from one person
to another (as in the case of Hendry) make sure that you
have enough information to make it meaningful and
accurate.

When providing feedback, get the wording and delivery
right. The right words can have a positive effect on the
receiver.Butthewrong choice ofwords can make feedback
come across as more negative and less supportive than
intended. In the earlier conversation Hendry had with
Shaun, he used the expression “donkey years” to describe
the length of time it took Shaun to review documents
submitted by his team members. Again this was a general
comment with no specific details shared.

Prior to delivering feedback, we rarely plan exactly what
we want to say and how we want to say. The words we
choose to use are important. Not only that, but your tone
and delivery of the feedback can also have a huge impact
on how feedback is received.

Without good, quality feedback, team members and
organisations are not in sync and are not performing at
their best. Honest, constructive, specific, actionable, and
timely feedback is the only way to go if you want to drive
outstanding results.

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