On a crusade for better feedback, I wish to share some of the secrets that I have learned. First is that there are 3 types of feedback.
Understanding the difference between these types is a mere stepping stone to giving better feedback. Given that feedback takes many forms in our day to day life, I believe it’s an important place to begin. I’m currently listening to the audiobook Thanks for the Feedback which I recommend you check out for further reading. However, I hope to share some quick-fire secrets with you in these blog posts. Onto the 3 types of feedback.
Feedback can take the form of appreciation. From a simple, “good job” to, “fantastic work on the new UI overhaul”, to more in depth appraisals; appreciation can be quite nuanced. Appreciation is fundamentally about relationship and human connection. We should take care that appreciation is not earned so cheaply, that inflation kicks in and the currency becomes worthless. Therefore, genuine, honest and detailed (contextualised) appreciation is valuable. Of course, when our line manager tells us, “great work”, we may feel elated, but it’s no substitute for our lead giving the gift of a knowing praise of our work.
One of the reasons behind our 1 on 1s is perhaps most obviously, for the development of the people of an organisation. Do you need more direction, does your team desire growth or change? Coaching itself can be instigated by two needs. One: the need to improve one’s knowledge or skills. Two: emotional need. In the case of the former, someone might request to learn about a process, skill, technology or even customer. Yet in the case of the latter, someone might perceive an imbalance in the relationship, or have an emotional “issue” that requires fixing. Coaching is something we should seek, however sometimes we’re looking for another form of feedback.
“Am I on track for good progression in my profession?”, “Could I be doing better?”. These are a couple of questions you can ask to ascertain your standing within your organisation. Evaluation is the kind of feedback for locating our current “worth” or “position”; evaluation tells you where you stand. Evaluation can be positive, or less so. That nickname your team has for your when you’re not around is evaluation. Finally, reassurance can also fall into this category. “You’ve got this!”.
An easy mistake to make, both as giver and receiver of feedback, is in having “crossed wires”; for example, perhaps I seek coaching, yet you give evaluation. Take the time at the start of a feedback session to align your understanding of the purpose of this feedback. Additionally, I would highlight the importance of being comfortable being uncomfortable; most important conversations are difficult conversations!
Hopefully this short post can begin to expand your understanding about feedback, and hopefully get you reading more! I’ll share more secrets if the demand is there, to please let me know what you think.
Text in italics are quotes taken from: Stone, D. and Heen, D. (2015) Thanks for the feedback. Penguin.