By: Daryl Watson On: May 27, 2017 In: Blog Comments: 0

Feedback. I’ve given it – aplenty! I’ve received it – aplenty! Most recently however, when I expected and needed it most, and despite asking (on a few occasions) – nothing was forthcoming. My reaction – I was both disappointed and infuriated at the same time, especially after all the time and effort I’d put into the opportunity at hand. Have you had this experience? How did you deal with it? What did you do? Does it really matter? I just had to share my feelings on Why giving and receiving feedback is so critically important. I believe it really does matter. Let me explain why….

As a young Sales Manager many years ago, I recall providing feedback one by one, to many members of the sales teams. We even had a formal review form, (thanks Jeff Ludbrook) which was always very helpful to use and capture the salient points of the day. Frequently, it was well received and became an extremely valuable part of the sales management process. As my life and career have progressed, more recently I was introduced to a whole series of feedback models and tools through Peter Hill whilst studying for my Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) qualification in Coaching & Mentoring. These included the AID & NIP Feedback models and the STOP tool, all of which I have used extensively in my own coaching practice over the last few years. They’re great and once again, when I’ve used them in my coaching conversations they have been well received.

The Feedback Sandwich has also been been a tool that I am certain many reading this article today will be familiar with. It is simply a mixture of providing positive feedback to start a meeting, then giving some constructive feedback, followed by the positive feedback once more to conclude.

A timely article from Adam Grant however, provides some cautionary evidence to suggest that we should stop serving the Feedback Sandwich, as it simply doesn’t taste as good as it looks! It may be helpful for the giver, but is the receiver really listening?

Recently, I spent an age preparing for a specific opportunity at hand. At the end of the due process I was unsuccessful and fully expected a debrief feedback conversation to outline the reasons as to why I’d been unsuccessful in my endeavours. But alas, despite my best efforts to secure something, nothing has come back. It has felt a little frustrating and I feel as if I have been shortchanged. Nevertheless, I believe that we are all entitled to feedback. If you are the one giving feedback in any given situation, then I’d state very strongly, that you need to see the due process through to the end and give the feedback that needs to be given! Don’t leave anyone feeling shortchanged like I was. After all, I think we all want to improve, we want to change our weaknesses and failures into strengths and successes – that is my why, and why it really does matter! Frankly, one of the best gifts leaders can give, is through Honest Feedback. I love this article from Joseph Folkman on that very gift, of honest feedback, where a simple self – assessment tool is also used to help you identify your preference for giving positive or negative feedback.

I was introduced to a powerful feedback technique some time ago, through NLP – The Empty Chair. Let me describe the process a little.

  • Firstly, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Secondly, sit in a chair and face another chair. Imagine that the other person is sitting in the other chair and then start having the feedback conversation with them. Subsequently, move to the other chair and answer back, as the other person. Then back again to the first chair and reply and so forth, moving every time you pause for thought and reflection.
  • Keep going – no matter how long it takes and however many times you find you need to change chairs – until you get some kind of resolution or way forward.
  • This technique uses only two positions. However, you could add a third position by moving to one side every now and again and become an observer; you can even tell the two people having the ‘conversation’ what you see and hear as an observer.

Why not give this a go. You may get some unusual looks in an open office, but it is a very powerful technique to help practice those crucial conversations and to provide honest, heartfelt feedback.

Writing an important essay, preparing a critical report, giving that challenging PowerPoint presentation, having a difficult conversation with a family member, stressing over that job interview, or even selling those items on ebay – giving or receiving feedback really does matter! We simply want to improve, do better and learn from our past efforts, good or bad. Fundamentally, the process used to bring about improvement in behaviour is feedback, it is the key to improving ourselves and others and is essential in all human interaction.

Sterling W. Sill shares the following:

Some Rules for Giving Feedback

1. Your motive needs to be one of intending to help the other person. If you are giving feedback in anger or out of a desire to hurt the other person, then do not say anything.

2. The feedback must be capable of being understood and accepted by the listener, and he must be in a frame of mind in which feedback would be helpful. For instance, if you do not like how a meeting is being conducted, do not stand up and state your objections in the middle of the meeting; the leader would be apt to be defensive and reject your comments. However, by going to the leader in private to discuss your views, you may make your feedback acceptable and productive.

3. The person must be able to do something about your feedback.

4. The feedback must be concrete and specific.

5. Avoid labeling. A person should not be labeled as a “nagger” or “grouch,” nor should a child be told that he has an “inferiority complex.” Pinning a label of something on someone often has the tendency of reinforcing it, rather than changing it. Further, the label does not accurately reflect the specific incident that you are trying to change.

6. Avoid making value judgments. It is much more helpful to describe behavior than to tell someone that what they did is good or bad. Avoid telling people what they should be or ought to be, and instead help them to discover what they are and what they do. They deserve to know how their behavior affects us, but the decision to change should be theirs.

7. Avoid dumping large loads on people. Feedback should come in portions that people can absorb. Most of us can assimilate and benefit from candid information if it is presented in a loving and kindly way in nice “bite sizes” over a time period.

One reason why we may be reluctant to share our honest reactions to the behaviour of others is that we fear what we might receive in turn. Experience, however, has shown that honest feedback is seldom as painful as people expect it to be. Another reason for little honest feedback in our society is that people are often embarrassed by positive feedback. Thus, they insulate themselves from the warmth and caring that honest feedback could provide.

To improve our behaviour we need accurate information. If we are to have any understanding of ourselves as leaders, as spouses, as parents, or as fellow human beings, we must know how our behaviour affects others. That is the only way to know ourselves better and to improve ourselves.

My invitation today is to give feedback a go – because YES, it really does matter.

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