How to give feedback?

Bluebird

October 4, 2021

Giving feedback is not an easy thing to do. But what are we supposed to pay attention to? How do we do it? Effectively? Empathetically?

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An employee can easily be motivated by constructive advice, constructive remarks, simple compliments. It can induce a positive change in the leader’s behavior too.

In times of home office, when giving honest feedback, it is essential to highlight the positives of the work of our isolated colleague first. It is also worthwhile to give feedback even to refused job seekers because they could become the ambassadors of our company.

Working from home might cause social isolation and chronic stress. The employee or the contractor, as well as the leader, need constructive feedback even while working from home. An honest opinion helps our professional progress, guides the company projects the right way, and creates a trusting and motivating environment.

Let’s begin with the basics

Meaning of feedback: Workplace feedback is the process of giving constructive advice to our colleagues or our employees in order to improve their professional and personal improvement and efficiency. With the help of the feedback, we strengthen good behavior, increase our colleague’s commitment and motivation towards our organization. Feedback is not a criticism, but a constructive and objective remark that supports the improvement and reaching the objectives on both sides.

The word “feedback” is “visszajelzés” in Hungarian and is commonly used within international companies in Hungary given that in most documents, forms, company communications the basic vocabulary is mostly in English.

We want feedback

Employees or colleagues long for recognition and like to receive feedback on the work they performed.

37%

According to O.C. Tanner’s research y, 37% of the employees agree that recognition is the best kind of support they can get from the Company or their leader.

3x

According to the data, three times more people wanted recognition than professional independence or more inspiration.

7%

Only 7% of the employees who participated in the study wanted a higher salary, 6% of them preferred more training, and 4% of them would have asked for a promotion.

According to a Redballon's survey, most people don’t like to be praised in front of a large public.

43%

If a choice were offered to them, 43% would receive recognition as part of a private conversation.

10%

Only 10% of the interviewees would choose public feedback. In contrast to what leadership training teaches: praising should take place publicly.

But what exactly is “Feedback”? 

The leader, the manager, or the more experienced colleague is usually the one to provide feedback. Where company culture allows it, the leader explicitly asks for feedback from their colleagues which he will implement in his leading style.

In many companies, feedback is systematic and is done in an organized manner. It usually happens once a year along with personal performance evaluation and career opportunity review. Feedback is incorporated into company culture, to work processes, it is a motivational tool. In accordance with this, a good leader gives feedback not only during formal occasions but also informally, spontaneously, and almost all the time regarding intermediary results, ideas, or initiatives.

Why is feedback important?

1. Because our coworker deserves it

First of all, we put energy into our work, day after day. We work continuously and - in the best cases- persistently to perform well in what we do. We are deserving of recognition for our efforts! Our coworker does too, let’s make time to give them correct feedback on their work!

2. X, Y, Z generations

As we advance with generations, it becomes truer every time that there is a huge need for feedback. Just because you don’t need any, others might do!

3. Increases motivation and loyalty while decreases fluctuation

An honestly and constructively delivered feedback increases our colleague’s motivation. They can proudly look at themselves, gain confidence in the work they have done. As a result, the colleagues will take more initiative, will do more for success than expected. They will take more responsibility for the work they have done; will make their work environment theirs. Regular feedback increases the colleague’s loyalty, and in parallel fluctuation, will decrease.

Feedback - Bluebird

How to give feedback to our coworker?

A manager friend had two separate offices for giving feedbacks. In one of them, there was a calm, cool, coffeehouse-atmosphere; that is where he summoned those with whom he wanted to discuss things in a relaxed, cosy environment. Another, more traditionally furnished and decorated office was used for official or serious business talks. He believed that the decoration, the clothes and the body language were all important when talking to an employee.

At the times of home office, the leaders lost these crutches. In addition, due to chronic stress experienced in a home office environment, the employees tend to see things rather pessimistically and tend to spot negative remarks more easily (you can find the study on the link between chronic stress and negativity HERE). This means that the colleague focuses on the negatives instead of the positives. For instance, if we say: “I would like you to give the report another go”, they might translate to themselves as “You did a very bad job”.

Let’s begin with a question

The constructive feedback shall start with a question, ask him honestly what his intentions are: “What do you think of the report?” or more directly: “What do you think, how did the job go?”

Let’s be honest and curious because we have no way of knowing what experience he had before writing the report, it might have been his first serious job.

If the colleague didn’t experience any problem, then we are dealing with a naive underperformer. In this case, we have to confront him. “I am asking because I saw that this and that happened.” Thinking about it together we can find a solution to the problem, so the same situation wouldn’t occur again in the future.

Recognize first, criticize later

According to research, people are more accepting towards constructive judgment, if we start with listing what they did well, and where they got good results. Don’t say general things, try to highlight their results as precisely as possible. Instead of saying: “you did a good job” you could say: “Judging from your work, in my opinion, you know your way around data”. If you can’t highlight anything from their work, compliment their tendency to learn for instance.

Tell them it’s for their own benefit

Tell them that our intentions with the feedback are constructive. Our goal is to achieve better quality results more efficiently in the future. Tell them face to face: “I can see that you want to code better, and I want to help you with that”. Or emphasize that “I want to use this project as an example inside the company, that is why I’m nagging you.” If the colleague hears this, he won’t think about the comments from a defensive standpoint, but with constructive intentions.

Whom to give feedback to?

Feedback can not only be given by the boss to the employee but also by the employee to the boss if it is supported or required by company culture. And the good leader doesn’t only listen to constructive feedback, but they also incorporate it into their managerial habits.

A company CEO told me about his transformation. He held very lengthy meetings. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t because of the number of problems, but because he likes to talk a lot. After getting feedback from his colleagues, he promised to control himself. For this, he asked his coworkers’ help. The colleagues had to raise their hand when he was talking too much. The meetings were also shortened by the fact that officially they were not allowed to hold meetings longer than half an hour.

Unsuccessful job seekers deserve some feedback too

As an IT recruitment company, we are aware that we need to give feedback to unsuccessful job seekers as well. That’s what we incite our partner companies to do. We need to give the reason for refusal as clearly as possible because the job seeker can learn from it as well.

Guaranteeing feedback is a branding tool for employers, given that the unsuccessful candidate might spread good words about us, or they might apply to us a second time. In the case of a junior position for example we had to refuse the candidate due to their lack of experience in JavaScript programming. We told them honestly. The job seeker made up lost ground in six months, after which they filed their application again; this time we could successfully place them.

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