How to Give Feedback So That It Is Well Received

In a cartoon, the boss at the head of the board room table tells others not to be fooled by his "appearing" to be inviting feedback.

One of the most important skills taught in new manager training is how to give feedback effectively. There are tips on being specific and timely, straightforward and supportive. These are important to be sure. But they skip over a step that is critical. As in the cartoon above, no feedback will be really heard if the recipient is not open to hearing it.

Ready to Give Effective Feedback
Before you approach your employee with corrective or constructive feedback, make sure that your intention is to help not to criticize. As a manager, your role is to support your employees as they try to improve their performance. Even if you are disappointed in an employee’s behavior, check your upset and angry feelings at the door. 

Once your emotions are under control, ask for permission to give feedback. 

Ready to Receive Effective Feedback
If the employee is not ready, ask about a better time to talk about the behavior you observed. There is nothing to be gained by giving feedback when your employee is unwilling to receive it. For feedback to be effective, the recipient needs to hear and understand it and then absorb and reflect upon what they might have done differently.

For feedback to make a difference in behavior and performance, it cannot go “in one ear and out the other.”  Make sure that your direct report is ready and willing to actively process, interpret and comprehend what you have to say.

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