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Feedback, the more the better!

Renan Araújo

liderazgos


Feedback is the process in which one person helps another to develop through their own perceptions (whether positive or negative). Fact: the more feedback is exchanged between team members within an organization, the better the individual results (and as a consequence the company’s results).

Feedback is also very good for the career. In the book, Thanks for the feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen expose the results of extensive research showing that professionals who seek feedback frequently, especially constructive feedback, are perceived as more competent, settle into new roles more quickly, and perform better than average.

In this content, we explain a little more about the topic so that you can stay on top of it. Read on to learn more!

But what is feedback anyway?

Feedback is a combination of two words of English origin: “Feed” and “Back”. Literally, it could be translated to something like “Feedback” or “Retroaction”. Because it is not very actionable let’s go to a more practical definition:

Feedback is the process in which one person helps another to develop through their own perceptions (whether positive or negative).

Ideally, one always starts from the premise that the sender’s intention is the genuine interest in the receiver’s development. If the reason for the feedback is other than this, it is just a way of venting one’s frustrations.

But this article is not an academic paper about the origin of feedback: it is food for thought for you (human resources professional and/or executive) to review your performance management model based on extensive and tiresome cycles of Performance Appraisals and think about a more fluid and constant model, where people are seen as agents of change and where the ghost of “immaturity” is no longer astonishing.

Why do Millennials need Continuous Feedback?

By 2025, the famous Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) will represent approximately 75% of the world’s workforce. Whether you like it or not, this is a reality that has no turning back. Therefore, it is a fundamental role of organizations to understand how this generation works and what they are looking for.

Among his characteristics, his entrepreneurial spirit is the most striking. It is related to the fact that Millennials dream (very) big and that they mostly aspire to leadership positions. Moreover, they are so determined to achieve these goals that they are increasingly looking for tools and practices that can help them achieve their dreams.

Starting from the premise of genuine interest in the other and total transparency, feedback comes in as the practice capable of directing our actions and behaviors towards our dreams, bringing inputs for improvement and reinforcing positive behavior. Besides, millennials are not only open to feedback, they seek it all the time.

If you leave it until the end of the year to give feedback to your employee, believe me: he probably won’t be there to receive it!

Why does continuous feedback contribute to a Growth Mindset culture?

Growth Mindset, (unlike Fixed Mindset) is the scientific school that holds that intelligence, creativity, and skills are changeable from practice, learning, and effort, rather than being static and unchanging. And for this reason, this is the characteristic of those people who reach higher levels of personal and professional achievement.

The vision that we can develop our skills if we put in the effort and study fundamentally changes work relationships, which used to be based on a more rigid and judgmental view of team member performance.

If we connect the dots, it is clear that feedback and Growth Mindset have everything to do. Since feedback is a great support tool for those people who wish to view challenges as opportunities and who want to reach levels of excellence not previously imaginable.

But this is not just a whim: a culture of growth and development gives practical results, because it contributes with a sense of urgency, with the generation of results, and most importantly, with the continuous improvement of processes, practices, and indicators.

Why is continuous feedback good for your business?

We have selected the main advantages of counting on feedback in your company’s strategy you’ll find below. Check it out!

It guides employees the best way forward

Think of the advantages of receiving continuous feedbacks similar to the advantages of a GPS over a Paper Map. Both provide you with directions to your destination. GPS, however, guides you in the context of an accurate assessment of where you are at the moment.

Likewise, in times, where not only are we changing, but everything around us is also changing rapidly, it is important to continually learn about how we can improve our performance and overcome obstacles and challenges.

Analogously think of a Runway Plane with a GPS/Navigation System that only shows the position of the plane every hour. It’s likely that if this plane does not crash it will take much longer than usual to reach its destination.

It is no different with us. If we wait a year to give feedback to our team members it’s likely that by then they will have resigned in frustration. Or it’s likely that they are way off course because their “GPS” is not working properly.

Improvements to the company’s bottom line

It is clear that more feedback has a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. Follow with me two quick lines of reasoning: The more feedback, the less people – and the company – deviate from their planned route (the strategy). Thus, the gap between strategy and execution is smaller.

Further development for the people involved

Meanwhile, the more feedback, the more developing, and consequently, the faster we gather skills and competencies. The more skills and competence we gather, the more prepared we are to face challenges and overcome obstacles. The more challenges and obstacles we overcome, the closer we get to our dreams.

The closer we get to our dreams, the more motivated we are. The more motivated we are, the more we provide. And the more we deliver, the more the company grows, consequently the more profit is generated!

“Sandwich feedback”: what is it and why should it not be used?

The most popular, and sometimes effective, way to communicate feedback is the “shit sandwich.” The technique was described in Manager-Minute, a classic professional self-help book very popular in the 1990s, and is known to be used by large consulting firms (such as McKinsey) as the ABCs of feedback.

The “shit sandwich” starts with a compliment to the receiver of the feedback: you tell him how important he is to the company and highlight one or two behaviors of the employee that have a good impact on the team’s results.

That is the first slice of bread. Next comes the shit or the sandwich filling: here you identify the behavior that must be corrected, that is, the hard part. Finally, you end with the second slice of bread: a reminder of the praise that started the conversation and the importance of the employee. This technique is exactly what we said: the ABCs of feedback. But it has some key constraints!

Too formal

The fact that it has to be planned in advance makes it lose its spontaneity, and is difficult to do on the spot, as soon as the behavior happens

Artificial

Once used the first time, the “shit sandwich” becomes highly predictable. And whenever you praise someone, the person will already think “ouch, here comes some shit”.

Limited

It doesn’t work with more experienced/senior professionals, who will know long beforehand what it’s all about, and will think you’re a beginner for using it. 

What are the main components of good feedback?

Instead of using a canned feedback template, much better is to break free of these ties and understand the best practices that make up excellent feedback. Check it out!

Real

Believe in the feedback you are giving, and believe that it will bring a positive impact to the person, the team, and the company. Never use feedback to manipulate the person’s feelings, or for some political trickery;

Well Intentioned

The motivation of a feedback is the improvement of the recipient of the feedback, not the other way around. If your motivation is not genuinely a positive impact on your colleague’s life, don’t do it;

Impersonal (just right)

Feedback should focus on behavior, not people. The one to be improved is the way of presenting the results of Paulinho from finance, not Paulinho from finance himself. When the focus is on behavior, people feel less attacked, and have a much lower tendency to go into denial, or defensive behavior;

In the right forum

Compliments should be given in public. Explain why the behavior is being praised and you can save yourself dozens of other feedbacks, because everyone who hears the praise will understand the positive impact of the behavior and will try to replicate it.

Improvement feedback, on the other hand, should almost always be done in private, so that the recipient does not feel exposed to his or her colleagues at a time of potential weakness;

Custom made

Adapt the delivery of feedback to the receiver’s style. Certain people are more sensitive to criticism, while others have thicker skin. For each one, the way of giving feedback should be different;

Straight to the Point

Make clear what your message is while being considerate of your coworker’s feelings. A very obtuse message can leave the receiver confused as to the tenor of the conversation.

Together

Especially in constructive feedback, besides clearly stating what went wrong is to build the next steps with the person. How it should have been and possible corrections she can make are critical to expose to make this moment as efficient as possible.

I am convinced and want to start. But which way?

Of course, the theory does not take into account the complexity of such exchanges in practice. Psychologist Daniel Coleman states that “Threats to our position in the eyes of others are extremely potent biologically, almost like those threats to our survival.” That is, biologically speaking, we are not prepared to receive feedback, since our brains interpret these messages as a threat to our survival.

On the other hand, we are also not prepared to give feedback since we are afraid of the other’s reaction, and even more, we are afraid of causing bad feelings and misunderstandings.

My answer: Feedback, the more the better!

Real-time exchange

Feedback should be exchanged frequently and as far as possible in real time, which means that people should still remember what happened. If you have something to say, say it! Think before you speak, of course, but say it! Your impressions can be extremely important to the development process of others, and helping and accompanying the growth of others is priceless.

This exchange is not only pleasurable but also educational, as the more we exchange the better and more accurate our messages become. And also as we improve our message we help others and learn to receive their perceptions more efficiently.

This process is enriching, since by learning to receive and give feedback we understand that although we are amazing we still have a lot of work to do, and that understanding that we are developing beings makes room to embrace challenges, persist in facing obstacles, see effort as the path to excellence, and learn from criticism, resulting in higher levels of excellence and achievement.

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