In the first article, we reviewed the features of effective and useful feedback, discussed types of feedback and provided some effective feedback-delivery strategies. Here we’ll single out the rules of group feedback and talk about how to ask and receive feedback correctly.
Well, individual feedback is more familiar, but do not undervalue the importance of group feedback. The goal of individual feedback is to make the person advance, while the focus of group feedback is on group processes, collaboration and common progress. It is designed to bring people together for achieving collective goals.Delivering your feedback to the entire group, you have to be even more careful and thoughtful because
- It can pose much more sizeable risks and the consequences will be corresponding.
- It can lead to false attributions. It is when people don’t understand how to allocate feedback across group members. For example, you’ve just said to a team of five that their uncoordinated actions caused the loss of the client. Each team member will differently perceive their responsibility for this failure. You say one thing to five people and they just might hear five different things.
So to handle these risks here are some safety tips:
- Encourage learning. The core purpose of feedback is talent pool development. So, when delivering it, concentrate on what can be done differently and better next time. Encourage people to move up, but always be specific and straight.No sugar-coating, you can be positive without being all milk and honey.
- Mention the contributions of individuals. This will help to avoid misallocation of responsibility.
- Never criticise publicly. Never pick on an individual in front of the group, all difficult personal comments are always provided in private.
- Followup with small individual feedback. Always remember to follow up with quick, small amounts of individual feedback. This might be face-to-face, or possibly by email or telephone. If the team needs and receives difficult feedback, but there’s one member who was performing well, follow up with them to make sure they know you’re aware of their contribution.
When you learn to balance the use of individual and group feedback, people will on the same page, have clarity about their performance and feel motivated to continue progressing.
Requesting and Receiving feedback
Effectively giving and receiving feedback are two sides of the same coin. Whatever good feedback you are delivering, it will be wasted, if the receiving party is not ready to receive. And if you are the receiving side, it is your responsibility to tune yourself for the reception of whatever you hear, only then you may have graceful reaction and response. When you learn what it takes to receive feedback well, you’ll also master how to provide feedback effectively.
Here some fears, usually associated with feedback asking and receiving.
- Hear criticism. Far from all facilitators give constructive and effective feedback and use the right wording in the process. Often when others suggest improvements it feels like blame or criticism. And out of fear of people’s judgements, many underuse such an effective developmental tool as feedback.
- The risk of looking bad. In some cases, seeking performance feedback can be interpreted as a flaw and negatively affect how others view you.
- Get into psychological discomfort. If delivered, heard or interpreted incorrectly, other people’s judgement may make us feel guilty, ashamed or anxious.
- Pay an ego cost. Our ego might feel bruised when we voluntarily seek out help from others.
- Afraid to be a burden. By asking someone to be involved in our development by providing feedback may seem as if we are using someone’s time for free and not offering anything instead.
To get rid of those fears realise that:
- Feedback is only one source of information about you. Your manager is just a single point of reference for feedback. You can get a full circle input from a broad range of colleagues, peers, direct reports, former managers, maybe even vendors and customers. It is great that some companies, understanding this, implement 360 feedback process and successfully use it.
ProTip here: Never ask your friends for feedback if you want to remain friends!
- Feedback is just a tool, not a personal attack on you, your character or your values. It’s a process that can help you improve at what you do, continue what you’re already good at, and build better relationships with your surrounding. When asking for feedback be clear and honest with yourself, seek feedback with the goal of improving your performance and not managing impressions.
- It is up to you to make it effective. Even if the feedback-giver was not sensitive in how they provided feedback, turn it around. Focus on how you can improve rather than what you were doing wrong, it’ll make the feedback experience more positive and switch your thinking to performance enhancement and continuous development. We cannot influence on what other people say, but definitely wen influence on how we react at their words.
- You are given, what you’ve requested. Request feedback correctly. Don’t ask, “What am I doing wrong?” but rather, “What do I need to do better?” It’ll flip the response into a more positive mode.You also can offset the tendency towards vague input. An effective question will be “Can you provide me with your feedback on A, B, C?” Ask specifically, and you will be answered specifically.
- Feedback-seeking behaviour is a hallmark of a successful professional. If your aim is to become an A-player, ask others what they think about your performance and how you can propel. And do not be afraid to be a burden, you’re not asking anybody to be your coach or mentor, you’re simply seeking a few bits of discrete insight about you from time to time.
So, as you may guess, the advantages of getting feedback are indisputable. In the first place, feedback helps:
- Unveil blind spots. Do you know about your development blind spots? Well, it is a provocative question. For sure, not. You can’t know them because you can’t see them. Blind spots are the areas where you lack awareness and therefore can’t improve. There are always ways when you behave or interact with others that won’t always come across as you intend. Maybe you see yourself as extremely efficient and caring when hightailing to solve even some minor customer problem, but your colleagues, whom you engage in the process, may perceive you as pushy and not understanding their priorities.And the only way to unveil these developmental areas is by requesting feedback from others. Lookers on always see more than players.
- Not to get into the “potential” trap. Let’s face it, you will never reach your full potential if you do not know how you and your actions are perceived by others. Win or lose, you need to challenge the way you process information and respond to events. The easiest way to do this is to consider other perspectives.
- Shape your career. Lack of feedback can undercut your promotion and it can hurt chances of being seen as leaders. We can sometimes get stuck in a rut or get lazy with time. So to move away from a narrow perspective and consider other opportunities, feedback is essential.
- Train your EQ. Emotional intelligence is the competency that needs constant training and development. And the feedback process is the best settings for this. As you can simultaneously practice understanding you and other person’s feelings and manage your reactions.Together with better EQ, your personality maturity will raise as well.
And to fully enjoy all advantages:
- Do some prior self-analysis. Before asking someone to give you feedback, do self-reflection of your own. Think about the area you’re interested in getting feedback on. Jot down things you’re showing promise and what’s gone well. Analyse what skills, knowledge gap, or experience would enable you to make an even bigger difference. These notes prepared before asking for feedback will give you some easy-to-reference talking points and they’ll show the other person you’ve carefully considered your performance yourself.
- Ask for balanced feedback. Ask both for the good and the bad. For example, after the presentation, say to your manager, “You just saw me present in there. What’s one thing that worked well and one thing I could do better next time?”
- Listen actively. You cannot perceive the information appropriately if you are not listening. Face the person, if possible and don’t multitask. Be engaged, attentive, respectful and don’t interrupt. By interrupting you miss out on the opportunity to fully understand what the person is saying. The more effectively you listen, the more prepared your response will be.
- Don’t make premature conclusions. Usually, when people hear something they don’t like or something that clashes with their view of themselves, the ego can step in to distort the situation, and assume the information must be wrong. This is ego protective function but on the flip side, it put is in self-defending mode. So, if you hear something you don’t understand or agree with, probe for more information. Say, “Can you help me understand X better?” Or, “Can you share an example of a time I did A, B, C?”
- Summarise. Firstly mentally for yourself and then aloud. That will prevent you from impulsive judgements and will let the other party know you did hear them correctly. The longer their statement the more useful a summary can be.
The culture of candour
One of the most outstanding books about feedback isRadical Candour: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott.Why candour? Because, for sure, civility is important while feedbacking, but candour is imperative. When you are civil with people you try to be nice, positive, and pleasing, caring a lot about not offending someone. It is pretty good. Civil behaviour is a hallmark of professional behaviour and a useful part of healthy team communication. However, great performance comes in direct contact with tough conversations. This is why candour should always surpass civility. Being candid is being honest, sincere, personally caring and always straightforward. No sugar-coating, just professional and somewhat blunt conversation.
For example, when a colleague asks to review her mock-up, she will send to an important client the following day, saying, “nice, I like it,” or “not bad,” or even “it is too bright” is a shot in the eyes, especially if you notice plenty of things to be improved. It is civil, but not helpful. Candid comments are different. They are always specific. Even if you say, “Nice,” quickly add, “Jane, CTA is lost because of the light font and the search filed location seems illogical, as well as, I would recommend making the purple picture less bright.”
But definitely this cannot happen overnight, the team has to be trained and coached properly to learn to see candour as a normal healthy part of learning and improving.