Throughout my career as a trainer I have received a lot of feedback – it comes with the job! From my very first training session observations within the corporate world to being assessed in later years as an Antenatal Teacher and to being observed by Directors of the business to ensure they were getting value for money. Lets also not forget the numerous appraisals and one-to-one meetings.
The quality of this feedback varied. Some of my appraisals consisted of just being spoken at and not being given ample opportunity to put my side. I left those appraisals feeling unmotivated and with a certain level of apathy toward the process.
I contrast this to some great feedback I have received, and by great I don’t just mean positive, I mean information that was given that I could actually do something with. Whilst taking my Adult and Further Education Teachers Certificate, I was trained and assessed by a wonderful experienced trainer. She gave me feedback that was based on what she saw, specific, honest and sincere.
She also gave me some feedback that has stayed with me ever since. She told me never to change who I am. Often within a corporate training environment there can be pressures to conform to the ‘norm’ of what a trainer should be. She was reminding me to be authentic: authentically me. This was over 20 years ago, and it has been something that I often think of when I’m doubting myself. This may not seem like a very significant piece of feedback to others but to me it resonated.
The power of great feedback can never be underestimated. Neither can that of poor feedback. So, if you want to make an impact on someone, improve their performance, deal with a difficult issue or simply say well done, follow these tips:
- Be specific – ‘You did a great job’ isn’t as useful as ‘you did a great job when you finished that project on time’.
- Focus on behaviours that can be changed – Telling someone they are rude, lazy, or have a bad attitude does not allow them to understand what they need to change. Instead discuss specifically what they did that made you think they were rude? What do you want them to change?
- Be honest and sincere – Give feedback that is true and genuine.
- Allow for self-appraisal – Allow the individual to give their own appraisal first so that they can ‘make room’ for your feedback. Most people know what went well and not so well before you have to tell them!
- Be timely – Give the feedback near to the event so that it has the most impact and relevance.
- Give feedback about the good stuff too – No one just likes to hear the bad stuff. Give some genuine praise too. Make sure the positive feedback also follows these simple rules.
- Collaborate on solutions – Don’t dictate how to improve; ask the individual how they think they can do better.
- Give feedback regularly – Create a culture of feedback by giving it regularly. This needs to be both positive and constructive.
What feedback has made the most difference to your career?