Much has been made of how to give feedback. Every manager knows, or should know, that there are rules when you give feedback. First one is:
Praise in public
Criticize in private
You don’t embarrass your team members. Another important rule about giving feedback.
Tell your team it’s all about you
Tell other people it’s all about them
A leader who gives away all the credit invariably gets viewed as a deserving much of the credit.
One other essential rule is called the “feedback sandwich.”
Start with praise on what they are doing right
Follow up with feedback on what you want to see improved
Finish up with more praise or confidence in their ability to achieve
There are entire books devoted to the topic. I’ve read enough of them that I recognize when someone is using these techniques on me. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s like being reminded that the actors in the movie is just a bunch of people reciting other people’s words.
But, what about when you get feedback? How do you want it delivered?
It doesn’t matter if you know someone is using “good management” feedback techniques on you. They are good because they work. And because they work they are good.
But, if you are aware of the techniques, you MIGHT be self aware enough to realize what they are supposed to accomplish. And if you realize that, you could also skip the softer parts.
I had a writing mentor. We were fast friends and I had the utmost confidence in his ability as a writer and in his support of me. Dave could have told me anything. And the more brutal the feedback, the more I would appreciate it. Why? Because if Dave gave me brutal feedback it was absolutely true.
Would I feel bad?
Sure. But, because my writing was bad, not because I thought *I* was bad.
Now, just to be clear, Dave didn’t give me brutal feedback. He gave me very encouraging feedback. It was also specific and actionable.
But, would I have preferred weaker feedback with a gentle hand or more brutal feedback?
I think I would prefer the brutal feedback. I’m a pretty confident person. I won’t be crushed by someone telling me an unpleasant truth.
I wasn’t always like that. Early in my career I had a horrible manager who scarred me for years to come because he was such a bad manager.
Recently I had a bad manager at a previous company. I had learned. I had improved. I had become tougher.
So, it’s important to give feedback carefully. But, you should also consider how you receive feedback.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here
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