Being able to offer effective feedback is a developmental skill that can be attained. It not only can enhance your capability as a leader but it can also assist your colleagues in how they behave amongst one another and how they view themselves as part of your team.

Behavioural feedback is a usable tool to enable those in a position of leadership to address concerns and to encourage positive behaviours from employees and team members.

Guidelines from The Effective Manager’s Handbook: Essential guidance to the change management body of knowledge 2015 says, ‘Giving effective development feedback is a valuable skill in its own right.’

Realistically feedback is probably not a new concept for any of us be it in business or within our own personal lives. However, the key word here is -effective. How effective are you in giving the feedback and how effectively is it received? We understand feedback as terminology but it is the way in which it is delivered that will determine the success of developmental progression.

Detailed below are my guidelines that you can utilise as your basis for giving and receiving effective behavioural feedback;

1) Helpful intention

It is vital when offering feedback that you are careful to proceed with information that is helpful and is not offering your own personal opinion.

2) Place and time

Choosing a suitable quiet place in private not only doesn’t embarrass or hurt pride of the individual you are speaking with, it also ensures there are no distractions and you can command the full attention of said person.

3) Keep it informative

Keeping it informative and descriptive prevents it from being an evaluative judgement and therefore it doesn’t provoke a reaction of defence. By putting the power with the individual you are offering them ownership for observed behaviour either gained by insight from colleagues or yourself. The recipient has the power to reflect and act upon their own behaviours and the impact of their behaviours.

4) Be precise

Keep it precise and succinct. If the impact of the individual’s behaviours were good or bad, positive or negative state exactly what it was about their behaviour that was just so. By homing in on precise information the recipient can analyse, adapt and change or tweak if necessary.

5) Give control

Being able to offer feedback that focuses on behaviour gives control to the listener. They have the ability to act upon what is said.

6) Welcome feedback

Observing behaviours when you are asked to give welcome feedback or if the recipient has asked for your feedback if there are areas they have themselves identified as needing behavioural feedback.

7) Pick and Choose when

It is of course easier to strike whilst the iron is hot as the saying goes but you will need to use your judgement on whether the feedback at this point will be digested and appropriately received.

If of course emotions are running high it may be best to leave until things have settled down.

8) Don’t tip the balance

Any feedback should be balanced. You always want to ensure that negative feedback is equally balanced with affirming comments. Pure negative feedback will not be instrumental in developmental progress. Of course if only positive feedback unless correct is offered and it is not true then this will have the same impact.

9) Have you been understood?

The only way to know if you have been understood and you feel the feedback has been received correctly is to get your listener to feedback what they have learnt or to rephrase.

An article written in Harvard Business Review of April 2009 stated that effective feedback is, ‘Shaping Behaviours and fostering learning,’ wouldn’t you agree? Which is why with something so sensitive it can potentially also be destructive if not managed and led correctly. It is imperative to foster feedback with empathy.

So, we’ve looked at my guidelines for offering effective feedback but how about the other way round-receiving feedback?

Data detailed in an article written by Forbes contributor Ross Blankenship, PhD, says, ‘According to a poll commissioned by Interact, 37% of managers report being uncomfortable giving feedback, and a whopping 69% report being uncomfortable communicating with their employees in general.’

All the more reason to ensure that managers or anyone who would be in the position of detailing behavioural feedback has the appropriate skills at their disposal in being able to effectively offer feedback to the intended recipient in the correct way. It offers people choice and the potential to make changes and develop.

It’s difficult is it not to sometimes hear feedback? We don’t always hear the balance in what is being said to us. It’s hard to remove how we personally feel and to view it constructively. Detailed below is a guide on how you can effectively receive feedback;

1) Can you hear me?

It’s as simple as that. It’s listening. Listening in a non-judgemental manner. No opinion. Just hearing what is being said. This way you learn and you have choice.

2) Ask and ye shall find understanding

Ask questions to ensure you have fully understood. We touched on this in my first blog post on active listening relating to this topic as a whole. The one true way to acquire understanding and meaning is to ask questions.

3) Clarify meaning of feedback

So you are receiving feedback but it so broad to the point where you don’t know if this is specific to you or the next person. Ask for examples that are related to you and your behaviours.

If you have asked for welcome feedback in certain areas you have identified yourself you need to know exactly where upon you can improve. Having direct observational examples can assist in your development.

4) Be grateful

Be grateful for the feedback. See it as a gift. Even if you are not sure if you are able or prepared to change what has been fed back to you. Be thankful. Giving feedback isn’t an easy task, it’s challenging and requires a considerable amount of dedication if to be done accurately.

 5) Take time to digest

It is always advisable to reflect and digest on feedback before deciding what if any changes need to be addressed.

6) Conclude

What do you feel you need to do with the feedback received?  Upon reflection maybe take the time privately or seek out a colleague, a friend or even a coach to explore further.

By being an active listener plus an effective giver and receiver in behavioural feedback you can impact your developmental progression within your own role, your team and your own life.

If you missed out on catching the first part of this blog then you can catch up here. Active listening leads in and links seamlessly into effective behavioural feedback.

Do you feel that you’re effective in giving and receiving feedback? Would you like to discuss in further detail?

If you feel that your skills personally or professionally could benefit from coaching please do get in touch.

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Full referencing source: The Effective Change Managers’ Handbook: Essential guidance to the change management body of knowledge, edited by Richard Smith, David King, Ranjit Sidhu and Dan Skelsey, 2015.