The Power of Feedback: Why it matters and how to give it effectively

The Power of Feedback: Why it matters and how to give it effectively

Feedback is a crucial component of personal and professional growth, yet it is often overlooked or avoided. Let’s be honest, giving and receiving feedback can be intimidating.

When we give feedback, whether it be positive or negative, it can provide the recipient with valuable information that can help improve performance, behaviours, and enhance social connection or affiliation within the workplace.

When we give and receive feedback effectively, it not only motivates us and helps us learn, it can enhance productivity and help foster a sense of community in the office.

Why does offering timely feedback matter?

Have you ever had a performance review where your supervisor rattled off a list of duties they felt you didn’t do ‘just right’ over the course of the year? Take a moment and think about how you felt in that moment. Most of us have been in this situation and we can attest it doesn’t feel very good.  

Although your supervisor may have intended the feedback to be constructive, wouldn’t it have been nicer to hear their suggestions and advice in real time? When we offer feedback in real time we give the recipient the opportunity to correct any bad habits as they go about their work. We are offering them the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. 

Alternatively, when feedback is positive and given in a timely manner, you are telling your employees that they are on the right track and doing a good job. These small acts of affirmation can act as further motivation and enhance overall job performance.

Providing regular feedback to staff members helps to ensure that they are fulfilling their responsibilities and help you stay on track with your organizational objectives. 

How much feedback is enough?

Have you heard of the 5:1 ratio? 

We like to discuss this concept in terms of a bank account, where giving positive feedback serves as a deposit, while providing constructive feedback acts as a withdrawal. Consistently depositing positive feedback helps to establish a solid basis of trust, respect, and appreciation. This base makes it less challenging for employees to handle constructive feedback or ‘withdrawals’ when they arise. A good rule of thumb is to offer five positive comments, to every one piece of constructive feedback. 

Positive feedback doesn’t need to be overly complicated either! 

People often forget the power of reinforcing or positive feedback. If you see behaviour you’d like to see again - call it out! It is really that simple.

Here are some effective phrases we love to use at Willow Oak when giving positive feedback:

“Thank you for…”
“I appreciate when…”
“It was really helpful when…”

Willow Oak Feedback

When giving feedback:

1. Be specific: Feedback should be specific and focused on the behavior or performance being addressed. Avoid generalizations or personal attacks. This keeps feedback actionable and forward thinking, rather than leaving people guessing or interpreting it. 

For example, “you're a very organized employee” can be perceived as good feedback, but what if instead you said “I love how easy you made following this project through colour coded tabs”? You are sharing with your employee specifically what action was effective! 

2. Be timely: Feedback should be given as soon as possible after the behavior or performance in question. This helps ensure that the feedback is relevant and fresh in the recipient's mind and also reinforces positive behaviours.

3. Be constructive: Feedback should be delivered in a constructive manner, focusing on areas for improvement and offering suggestions for how to make changes.

4. Be respectful: Feedback should be given in a respectful and professional manner, avoiding personal attacks or criticism. One great way to do this is to focus on the behaviour, not the person. 

5. Be open to feedback yourself: Feedback is a two-way street. Be open to receiving feedback from others and using it to improve your own performance.

Giving and receiving feedback doesn’t need to be overcomplicated or overwhelming. Just remember that no two individuals are the same, nor are they going to receive similar feedback the same way, and that’s okay!

When giving feedback, we like to remind others that our intentions are to give them the opportunity to learn and to grow. Approach giving and receiving feedback with an open mind, listen attentively and leverage the feedback to bring about positive change in your life and your workplace. 

If you found this blog post helpful, we encourage you to take action and implement some of the strategies and tips outlined here. Your future self will thank you for it!

Leave a comment