The art of feedback: How to give and receive a constructive evaluation for better results
Feedback is a necessary and very valuable tool for the cohesion and smooth functioning of any team. Used correctly, it has a motivating role for the team members.
On the other hand, providing feedback at an inopportune moment can shake the trust within the group, affecting the individual motivation of each employee. Therefore, providing feedback is an art that must be handled with care, as well as receiving it.
- The art of feedback: The psychology behind a negative evaluation
- How to give and receive feedback: Useful tips for positive results
1. The art of feedback: The psychology behind a negative evaluation
Constructive feedback encourages free communication.
Organizations that use such methods are usually very productive and have more beneficial policies for employees. The most important thing in giving and receiving feedback is that it does not cause negative reactions.
Team members respond positively when they receive instructions that they understand.
Clear and honest feedback helps them to be more confident at their job - when you give the other person a constructive opinion, you turn a dull conversation about performance into a concrete plan of action. According to research, 92% of participants acknowledged that employer feedback helps them get better at what they do.
Formulating and addressing feedback is an art because most of the time the receiver might internalize and react to negative feedback through various emotions and feelings if not addressed correctly.
One of the guiding principles of the human brain is to minimize threats and maximize rewards.
When someone receives negative feedback, it can be associated with a threatening stimulus, and in such situations, people can generate 3 types of automatic responses:
- Fight - a defensive reaction
- Flight - avoidant behavior
- Freeze - anxiety or lack of communication.
These 3 types of responses trigger strong physiological reactions and are generated by psychological fear. Fear is conditioned, which means that it is associated with a situation or thing that has generated a negative experience.
The psychological response is initiated when first exposed to such a situation and develops over time, depending on how it’s addressed.
2. How to give and receive feedback: Useful tips for positive results
If you are giving feedback it is preferable for it to be continuous and constructive. It is important to build a relationship based on trust with your team members so that you can provide feedback in a positive manner.
Try to keep these tips in mind as you refine your feedback strategy:
- Focus on the company’s culture and values
Continuous performance evaluation is becoming more and more a common business practice - colleagues will no longer perceive it as a daunting procedure they have to go through every three months or every year. Talking to them about their work or giving them a brief opinion about a project shows them that you care and that you are there for them.
The open attitude towards feedback shows a culture in which communication becomes a tool for improvement.
- Be honest!
In order to provide valuable feedback, you need to lead the conversation so that you can say exactly what you think. The purpose is not to focus on the bad things or to make your colleague doubt their work.
Remember: your mission is commendable.
You do this to help them learn, evolve and understand what success means. Part of this conversation is to make team members aware of their results and focus more on what could be improved.
- Think like a coach
Be authentic when giving advice! Put yourself in the receiver’s place and think about ways that you would like to be given such an evaluation. Create the right framework for an open dialogue by referring to the obstacles and challenges you have encountered yourself in your career.
This will send a positive message to team members by knowing they are being understood and their work respected.
If you are receiving feedback, there are a few things to take into account if you want to learn and grow within the company:
- Try not to get defensive
When receiving criticism or negative feedback, people tend to react and block any other constructive information coming to them. The idea is to stay calm, listen and leave your defensive behavior behind.
Wait until the person has finished what they had to say, ask for clarification or examples, and make sure you perceive the message in a constructive manner.
- Don't rush into giving an answer
It’s only natural to feel like defending yourself - it's your body's reaction to the threat. The feedback that conflicts with self-image can produce disorientation and emotional imbalance. But the way you perceive and respond to feedback is a constant process of self-knowledge and self-control.
When you don’t rush into giving an answer you allow the "fight, flight, freeze" mode to withdraw and give the reins to the analytical brain that is more receptive to feedback.
Zoom out and then find a good time to outline a response to feedback.
- Be open-minded!
Try to stay receptive!
The person giving you feedback may also be in an awkward position. You don't have to agree with what you are being told, you just have to show that you are open to conversation. It helps you understand the points of your feedback and gives you the opportunity to come up with some ideas and solutions.
Remember that attitude makes a difference, and if you show that you are open-minded and ready to learn from mistakes, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one for your personal career goals.
Organizations that promote an environment based on open discussions and constant feedback from all team members, regardless of position and hierarchy, are aiming for success. Highlighting issues in a gentle manner and providing a strategy for the future can help colleagues develop their skills and better understand the company's mission.
Therefore, a feedback strategy is essential for achieving short and long-term goals, and it must be on both fronts - employees should have the opportunity to share and communicate their vision as well.
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