Thursday, May 23, 2013

How to give ‘Constructive Feedback’?

“A great goal of life is lifting people up versus bringing people down.” Robin Sharma. Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and it is the most essential diet to improve individual, professional, organizational performance. But many times, our feedback can bring people down rather than lift them up. Whenever we give feedback, it should be constructive and not destructive. How can we ensure this? The following steps from Brian Tracy’s book, ‘Maximum Achievement’ can really help us:

1.      Protect Individual Self Esteem: Remember self esteem is like the balloon while words can be potential needles. Be gentle; let the person know that the feedback is being given in the best of his/her interest. You could even start with words like, “I like you” or better “I love you” and then go on with process of correction.

2.      Focus on Future: Don’t cry over the spilt milk! The focus should be ‘What do we do from here?’ Use words like, “Next time, why don’t you…” Energy flows where attention goes. If we focus on the wrong thing done too much, we will receive the same in the future. Focus on the corrections that need to be carried out. Don’t harp on the negative past and wrong doing which can discourage the person.

3.      Focus on the behavior or performance: Don’t focus on the person. Rather the behavior or the performance. Instead of saying, “You are not selling enough,” say, “Your sales figures are below expectations.” Many times we get into the tendency of generalizing things. We look at a wrong act and conclude that the person as a whole is wrong. We should be able to separate the person from his/her action and behavior which happened in a particular context.

4.      Use “I” to retain ownership of your feeling: Instead of saying, “You make me very angry,” say, “I feel very angry when you do that” or “I am not happy about the situation and I would like to discuss how we could change it.”  We should take the responsibility of our feeling or the reaction, not blame it on the other person.

5.      Clear agreement: Get clear agreement on what is to change, when and by how much. Be specific, solution oriented. Say things like, “In the future, it’s important that you keep accurate notes and double check things before the shipment.”

6.      Offer help: Ask, “What can I do to help you in this situation?” Show the person how to do and what to do. Be a leader who takes along his people and stoops down to serve and help.

7.      Assume that the person wants to do a good job: If a person has done a bad job or made a mistake the problem lies in the limited skill, incomplete information or misunderstanding. Be calm, patient, sensitive and supportive. Build rather than tear down.

The greatest favor we can do to someone is to build his/her self esteem and self efficacy. It will go on to exceptionally build our relationships at home, workplace and everywhere. Constructive Feedback is what we should be committed to. 

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