When it comes to giving feedback we need to remember that the process is supposed to be beneficial to the person receiving it.
They should be able to use the feedback to make changes that can improve their performance.
The best way to do this is to highlight ways that they could improve, rather than just providing negative criticism.
As leaders we should be looking to provide constructive feedback, always!
If we are not providing constructive feedback then we are just being negative and it’s unlikely that the person we are supposed to be coaching will feel that we are being helpful or supportive.
We can only develop people with constructive feedback. That doesn’t mean we should shy away from giving hard messages, it just means that we should look to make the process as positive as possible. If the process is positive it’s more probable that the coaching might work.
Just recently I heard someone providing feedback to their staff, telling them how stupid they looked when they were giving a presentation.
That’s not feedback, that’s just being hurtful.
How does the person benefit from that feedback? They don’t know what it was they did that they could do better, nor did they receive any advice on how to improve.
I had a similar situation with one of my staff. So a day or so after their presentation I had a chance to speak with them.
So I asked them how they thought the presentation went.
They said not as well as they had hoped.
I asked them what they felt was wrong, and they said that they were very nervous and they were moving around too much, fidgeting.
I asked them what they thought the impact of that was, and they said it had impacted the audience concentration, and that consequently they had lost the audience.
So now, only by asking questions, they had provided their own feedback on their performance, which was good, it showed they had strong self awareness as well as an understanding of the impact.
Now I was able to tell them that I had had similar experiences, in fact we all had, and then I told them what it was that I did to help calm my nerves.
I told them that I prepare my material and go through it three or for times before hand so that I knew it inside out, so I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting my facts. I practise my pacing, and try to anticipate questions that might get asked.
I also told them that I accepted the fact that I will be nervous, and that actually its a good thing, it will help me be natural and authentic. If I am not nervous, then I am over confident and the presentation might feel a little bit forced.
So in this situation I had been able to broach the subject in a way that allowed my team member to explain what they thought the problem was and then I had been able to share that I had had the same problem, and what I had done to try and over come it.
More often than not people know when they have made mistakes or have a problem, they don’t necessarily need us to point it out to them. What they need is support and advice, and they are often much more open to it when they ask for it, rather than when we try to force it upon them.
So the next time you have to give feedback try and make the experience as positive as possible by asking question, getting their view and by providing constructive advice.