We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it,” and vice-versa. This common expression applies perfectly to employee feedback.
Many people see either the importance of giving feedback or of receiving it, but few fail to piece the two together and stress the significance of balancing giving and receiving feedback.
Here is how your team can improve its ability to balance giving and receiving feedback… because one just doesn’t get the job done.
Don’t be afraid to break the norm that feedback can only be given downward, from managers to employees. Employees should receive valuable 360-degree feedback from those above them, below them, and at the same level as them.
If a coworker has an excellent presentation, for example, let them know why you liked it! Similarly, managers should be open to feedback from employees. There's always room for improvement, even for rock star employees.
Before giving feedback, consider the individual’s personality and how he or she prefers to receive it. Whether that’s publicly or privately, you do not want to make anyone uncomfortable when giving feedback; rather, it should be an opportunity to grow and develop relationships.
Feedback itself should be a balance of positive and negative comments that highlight areas of improvement. This dual inclusion creates constructive feedback that allows the receiver to pinpoint weaknesses and improve upon them while maintaining current strengths.
Take the time to prepare your feedback and make sure it’s meaningful. Distinguish feedback from a typical compliment by making it specific to an individual. Point out who, what, where, and when so that the individual knows exactly what you are referring to.
For example, you could say, “During our monthly team meeting yesterday, I enjoyed hearing your insights about your latest research on employee engagement.” Adding this level of depth ensures that the receiver knows exactly what you’re talking about and clearly understands your comments.
It’s important to directly ask for feedback after a project, presentation, or meeting is wrapped up, especially when starting out in a new position. Without doing so, coworkers and managers may not know your comfort level with receiving constructive criticism. Requesting feedback sets the tone that, going forward, you want it – positive or negative – to improve.
It’s easy to get defensive when receiving feedback, especially when it’s negative. While you can offer a response to the criticism that may explain your situation, steer clear of defensiveness as it implies excuse-making. For example, instead of saying, “But I tried that, and it didn’t work!” or “I didn’t have enough time,” you can say, “That’s a great idea – next time I will try harder to make that happen.”
Keep track of the feedback you receive by writing it in a journal, Word Document, or employee engagement platform. This allows you to compare feedback as you progress toward your goal of improving. If your feedback stays consistent from month to month, consider changing your plans for improvement as they may be ineffective. Maintaining a feedback log allows you to see what you have improved and what still needs developing.
After receiving feedback, thank the provider for taking the time to acknowledge your performance. If the provider is someone you work closely with, you may want to share your plans for improvement so that they can hold you accountable and assist you toward that goal. This shows that you appreciate feedback and want it in the future, too.
A combination of these tips and tricks will provide the foundation for a highly-engaged team to work toward individual improvement, which will ultimately lead to overall team improvement.
Check out our Giving and Receiving Employee Feedback ebook for additional clarity on creating and maintaining a culture of balanced feedback.