Last week I talked about accepting criticism at work.  This week, I’d like to flip sides and discuss a few questions to consider when giving feedback at work.

  • Is this feedback really necessary to improve productivity at work? It might seem reasonable to give feedback at every opportunity.  However, if you’re always dispensing advice, you might give your colleagues feedback overload, and nothing gets considered.  A general rule of thumb is to give feedback when it, if taken, will likely increase the chance of your team becoming more productive.
  • When should I give the feedback? Timing and environment are almost as important as the message itself.  Choose a situation that makes the feedback most likely to be taken.  For example, if the team is in the middle of a crunch deadline and everyone’s stressed, you may consider conducting a post mortem to discuss individual or team feedback, rather than adding to an already stressful situation.
  • Is the feedback aimed at an individual or the team? I’ve been in many situations where feedback is given to the entire team when it really pertains to a single individual.  While this may feel more comfortable to the person giving feedback, it’s often irritating to the rest of the team.  Why give 90% of the team feedback when they don’t need it?  Be sure to keep group feedback directed at everyone, but individual feedback on an individual level.
  • Can you provide specific actions to improve performance? Last, but most important, make sure your feedback is actionable.  If you harp on someone or the team on a point where they can’t improve, all you will end up doing is frustrating people, and thus decrease morale.  Make sure you provide not only feedback, but concrete and measurable ways to improve.

-Deborah Fike

Related Topic: Giving Feedback: Know They Audience

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