5 reasons why skilled feedback in the workplace is important

Be honest, how do you feel about giving feedback? Are you in the category ‘avoids difficult conversations at all cost’ or ‘leaves trail of destruction in their wake’?

Have you ever marvelled at someone else’s ability to communicate effectively while giving you feedback, leaving you inspired and in alignment, rather than defensive and alienated? Perhaps you would like to give this type of feedback as well as receive it? 

The good news is that giving impactful feedback, far from being an innate skill, is something that can be learned. Yes, everyone can be skilled at giving and receiving feedback!

What exactly is feedback? Particularly in the workplace, we hear this term all the time, and we have to wonder: do we truly know what it is and why it is so important?

Feedback, what’s that?

‘Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.’

According to the Oxford Dictionary feedback is in essence information that when applied throughout a  process can be used to improve the performance of a task. If we apply a ‘Coach Approach’ to feedback we can see how feedback can also be an opportunity to build connection and align with members of your team, creating stronger bonds and a stronger impact within organisations.

In the workplace, there are usually two main responsibilities; to get things done, and, grow your people. With over 40 percent of the global workforce considering leaving their employer this year, due to the impact of the pandemic, could now be a good time to shift from a performance based feedback focus to a humancentric approach in order to retain, and attract, diverse talent?

Effective feedback, both positive and constructive is immensely useful, allowing valuable information to emerge that allow teams to reflect and reshape on the best ways to move forward and how to co-create. What happens when a culture of appreciative feedback is fostered? What happens when both managers and staff are in a space of openness? And what is the effect on overall morale and productivity?    


5 Top Reasons Why Feedback is Important

1. Feedback is an opportunity normalise our conversations

What is hard about giving and receiving feedback? If you ask someone in your workplace, you may have responses such as feeling criticized, taking things defensively, feeling that it undermines self confidence and that it creates conflict. These observations can be true if the feedback is not delivered in a skilled way. 

However, it’s important to realise that feedback is not judgement or criticism, it is about sharing what works for you and what doesn’t. How can you make this process  easier for yourself?

What if feedback is simply part of how we converse? Can this view help us normalise these conversations? For example, a perspective for conflict is that it is just a sign that something needs to change! What happens when we shift into this perspective?


2. Feedback is Active Listening

One of the ways to engage in effective feedback and diffuse potential misunderstandings is to step into the role of ‘Active Listener’. Can you keep the space as non judgemental as possible and describe observed behaviours without adding interpretations as to the ‘why’? What happens when you keep it as impersonal as possible and create room to reflect and ask clarifying questions? What if there is acknowledgement and appreciation of the vulnerability that both the giver and the receiver of feedback experience? 


3. Feedback can inspire accountability and proactivity

What happens in your working relationship if colleagues feel valued and appreciated through feedback? If you actively include them, create the space for their suggestions and ideas could they feel inspired to have more ownership & accountability of their role responsibilities, and increase motivation to be more proactive?


4. Feedback is perspective building

Feedback, when delivered skilfully, allows people to step into the others shoes and consider different perspectives. In the case of misunderstanding or conflict, what could be the 2% of truth in the other’s perspective that you can connect with? Is there an underlying need or value that is not being met? Even if the person you’re speaking with is being judgemental, critical, defensive or taking things personally, feedback is about behaviour, not the person – how you choose to respond can have an effect on the overall outcome of the conversation. 

5. Feedback is an opportunity for continuous learning

What happens when you take the perspective that feedback is an opportunity for continuous learning? What happens when you shift from ‘I have to give feedback’ to ‘I get to give feedback and connect’?. Or ‘I have to listen to this’ to ‘I get to listen to how I can evolve’?

When giving or receiving feedback, could curiosity be the antidote to taking things personally and making assumptions? If we are mindful with our words, which carry power, and step into the role of curiosity how does our behaviour impact the workplace around us?

Would you like to try it and find out?

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