5 Steps for Giving Productive Feedback


1 – Create Safety

People who receive feedback apply it only about 30% of the time. If the person doesn’t feel comfortable when receiving feedback, it may happen that these comments become ultimately unproductive. Try not to make the other person feel bad or look foolish in front of peers, and create opportunities to build confidence and skills.


2 – Be Positive

Give as much positive feedback as you do negative. Positive feedback stimulates the reward centres in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking new direction. Negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made; consequently, it activates the response to the threat and a defensive attitude sets in. You don’t need to avoid negative or corrective feedback altogether, but make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.


3 – Be Specific

People generally respond better to specific, positive direction. Avoid saying things like, “You need to be more talkative in meetings.” It’s too ambiguous and can be interpreted in a lot of personal ways. Say something specific and positive pointed at the task you want accomplished, such as, “You are smart. I want to hear at least one opinion from you in every meeting we’re are together going forward”.


4 – Be Immediate

The adult brain learns best by being caught in action. If you wait three months to tell someone that his or her performance is average, he or she can’t understand the changes needed in order to change direction. It relies on memory, which can be faulty. Productive feedback requires giving it frequently.


5 – Be Tough, not Mean

When someone drops the ball at work and you have to give him or her your opinion, start by asking his or her perspective on the situation. Next, give the objective, specific, forward-moving type of feedback, described earlier. Ask if he or she understands everything you expect. Inform the person that he or she is being graded and that you’re there to help him or her succeed. As the saying goes: “People have a habit of becoming what you encourage them to be.

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