Giving and getting feedback

Giving quality feedback and being open to feedback will make it easier to improve and develop performance.

Giving feedback

Not all feedback is equal. Good feedback uses concrete examples and if possible, relates back to the expectations set out in the performance agreement.

Good feedback is delivered in a timely manner and highlights both:

  • what is currently being done right and why
  • what areas need to be worked on and why.

If the person receiving feedback needs to work on certain areas, explain why and ask them to make suggestions of how they could address this feedback. Be prepared with some suggestions of your own to discuss.

A useful model to guide you when giving feedback is: Situation/Task, Action and Result.

Using STAR to give positive feedback

  • Talk about the Situation/Task that was being undertaken
  • Action - explain what the person said or did that was so effective
  • Result - explain the result of the effective behaviour or action.

Using STAR/AR to give feedback for improvement

  • Talk about the Situation/Task that was being undertaken
  • Action - explain what the person said or did AND the Alternative Action - what the person could have said or done
  • Result - explain the result of the behaviour or action AND a suggestion or discussion on what alternative result might have been.

Getting feedback

It’s not always easy to receive feedback in a constructive way, particularly when it relates to areas for development. To help you deal with feedback positively:

  • focus on listening really carefully and saying it back in your own words
  • when replying, pause first and consider what you are going to say next
  • clarify what you have heard to make sure that both of you are on the same page. Ask for examples if you don’t understand
  • thank the person for their feedback, even if you don’t agree with it straightaway
  • take time to sort out in your head what was said or check in with others (do not comment negatively about the feedback-giver) before deciding what actions you wish to take based upon the feedback. It may help to record these actions somewhere.

If the feedback is negative, try to:

  • not react emotionally. If you need a break, ask for one
  • recognise that receiving negative feedback provides an opportunity for growth
  • understand what the person's concerns are
  • not argue with the person giving feedback - just say thanks instead. However if the information appears factually incorrect, seek the details behind the facts and then you will be in a position to follow up once you have checked your information
  • if you’re not sure, ask what the person would expect or hope that you would do differently next time, and what they think would be achieved if you made this change
  • consider the feedback slowly. This may take a day or even more and may involve asking others for their comments on the feedback
  • use positive language in your responses eg “it wasn’t my intention to… so I am sorry that you feel that way. Next time I will…”

You don't have to agree with feedback that is provided, and sometimes you won't. When someone provides you with feedback they are telling you how they see your actions (or inactions) or behaviour. It’s always worth reflecting on whether you would like to change this person's view by making changes as a result of their feedback. It’s also worth thinking about whether this person's feedback is likely to be similar to how others see you when you decide what (if anything) to change in response to the feedback.

If the facts are incorrect, have a follow-up meeting and unemotionally present the facts as you understand them, preferably with evidence of some sort – emails or logon times etc.

If the feedback is received from your manager, another manager or a customer, it’s also worth considering whether there are likely to be consequences involved if you choose not to make any changes.

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