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Feedback is a Gift

Martin Haworth

Feedback is a gift -- when done properly. The very word strikes fear into the hearts of millions of workers every day, because the only time they get feedback is when it is rolled by a manager who wants to criticise -- yet put a bit of positive spin on it.

Ever been there? I know I have and it sets off that internal groan, because you know just what's coming.

Feedback is a gift -- remember that at the start of this piece? It can be a gift where used constructively, consistently and with goodwill. It is available to all of us, all the time, whether we are a manager or an employee with a manager. It is available two-way and when used that way is a valuable tool for developing everyone in your organisation, department or team, however big you are, however small.

In fact personal self-feedback can be the 'holy grail' of development, where we get to be thoroughly honest with ourselves about how we are doing (and accepting self-praise when it goes well).

Back to others -- how do we get feedback to work so that people really embrace it rather than run away from it?

Here are ten little tips to help you get the best from Feedback:-

1. Be Consistent!
Be consistent and give regularly -- be a model for others to observe and then do themselves.

2. Receive Feedback Yourself
By personally asking for and receiving feedback you will receive much more you can use positively than to your detriment.

3. Value the Potential
We get too little truth in our lives as managers. People are nice to us face-to-face and then talk about us behind our backs. Feedback opens up the loop.

4. It's About What, Not Who
Feedback is about the behaviour, and not the individual. It's saying that you do a great job and this time what happened in detail. What did you 'do', not who are you.

5. Lose the Criticism
Always offer feedback and then, first ask them 'What went well?', and once you have given them time for that, 'What might you try differently next time?' And after they've said their bit, do it for them yourself. They will appreciate recognising their own performance first.

6. Look to the Future
Growth opportunities present when they see the possibilities and usually, they see them for themselves first. Thus ownership of a new solution in the future gives hope and excitement and evolution of performance.

7. Be Unconditionally Constructive
By avoiding negatives and 'but' you will engage rather than put off. Your people will be with you rather than against.

8. Deliver Promptly
The best time is in the moment, at the time or as close to is as possible. If you give your feedback at the first opportunity, you will find it is much better received.

9. Open Your Questions
Ask discovery questions with ease -- there is no falseness, nor discomfort. Indeed the use of this questioning skill binds the relationships they are so good at making. The 6 Wise Men do this best Who, What, When, Where, How and Why.

10. Provide Support
Whatever the learning from this regular and consistent feedback you are using (two-way), there may be the need for ongoing support and coaching -- be sure to offer it.

Feedback, a much underestimated and much maligned business opportunity, ready and waiting for you right now.

Copyright 2005, 2007 Martin Haworth

Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

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