Dealing with feedback is not easy. Neither for the giver nor the recipient. There are also cultural differences: While positive feedback is part of everyday life in some environments, there is a reluctance to provide open feedback particularly in hierarchical cultures.
Who hasn’t heard the famous motto of a strict boss: “Not smurfing is enough praise!” Unfortunately, this approach inhibits development rather than promoting it. If there is no answer, we are left in ambiguity: Was it really good and he, therefore, does not scold or was it so bad that he does not even want to talk about it anymore.
Feedback is a gift. There are several aspects to this. On the one hand, you are not giving your counterpart a sign of appreciation if you do not think about the suitable gift. On the other hand, this metaphore is also a reminder to the recipient: Feedback is always subjective from the eye of the giver. The recipient can then decide for himself whether he puts on the self-knitted socks. The giver should also not expect this.
Feedback can be both formal and informal. Especially in feedback-shy environments, formal feedback structurally stimulates the dialogue. Moreover, written formulation enforces more precision and difficult feedback can perhaps be more elegantly expressed in the appropriate words. This is also a good basis for the agreement of development measures.
The formal feedback can, of course, take place in both directions. This is not only about the regular employee appraisal. Mature leadership cultures will establish 360-degree feedback in which colleagues and employees give feedback to the leader.
In addition to formal feedback, informal feedback is of course enormously important for corporate culture. It works every day regardless of the often-long-term review cycles. This is about personal interaction, mutual appreciation and an interest in joint further development.
Sooner or later every leader will have got to know the “sandwich” when it comes to feedback. With this method, you pack a difficult message into two positive slices of bread so that it slips better. As with a burger, the rich meat with the potential for further development is in the middle. The positive messages create however the right atmosphere. Thus, the whole becomes better digestible and is more appreciative.
Important with the feedback is always the aftercare. Did my feedback reach the recipient, did he understand me correctly? Does he change his behavior due to my feedback or not – and why not? Every feedback is a starting point for a learning process and the calibration of mutual expectations. The time component is also important here: Some burgers need some time to digest.
Finally, the emotional side. In contrast to burgers, feedback is best served cold – based on facts rather than heated emotion. Positive emotions are an exception, of course. An enthusiastic “Thank you very much, you did a great job” is always welcome. There can never be enough of that.
What about you?
Do you have an open feedback culture?
Do you regularly give informal feedback to your employees?
What did you learn from your last 360-degree feedback?
Further good reads:
How to give a Feedback Sandwich
360 Degree Feedback: See the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Why Warren Buffet Believes Feedback Is A Gift and You Should Too