Sunday 22 June 2014

The Ten Commandments of Giving Feedback

In my previous post I considered how to become better at receiving feedback, as such, it seems to sensible to look at how to get better at giving feedback.  In doing so, I will be making use of Sutton, Hornsey and Douglas's concluding chapter in their recent book - Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice to list what they identify as the Ten Commandments of Giving Feedback.

  1. Make negative feedback specific and direct.- avoid the bland and the vague.
  2. Follow rules of engagement - criticise the behaviour not the person - don't criticise in public.
  3. Communicate, value, regard and esteem - negative feedback can be interpreted as representing a lack of appreciation or affiliation. 
  4. Use praise with care - praise is relatively ineffective in helping people improve - focus on praising behaviour (relatively harmless) rather than ability (which can be counterproductive for motivation). 
  5. Be sincere - feedback is more effective when it is said with belief. 
  6. Take your recipient's perspective - it is likely that recipients of feedback do not see things they way you do, and words take on a different meaning than intended - personality, culture and status can create opportunities for misunderstanding.
  7. Give your recipient voice - feedback is also about speaking freely, so recipients can seek clarification and have the opportunity to develop areas for improvement for themselves.
  8. Maintain positive relationships and cultures - treat people fairly, develop the trust and respect of the recipients of feedback.
  9. Learn from feedback - if feedback isn't working - do it differently
  10. Agree on specific, believable goals and improvements - goals should be achievable, whilst challenging, and should focus on the promotion of desired outcomes rather than prevention of less desirable alternatives.
I'll now try and draw together a few themes from my previous posts on PRAs, appraisal and feedback. It seems to me that if we are to achieve the implicit aim of PRAs etc, i.e. continuous improvement there are three key elements
  • People - both the giver and receiver of feedback need to constantly work at developing his or her individual skills, and individuals need to be supported by their organisation to develop these skills.
  • Process - mistakes and difficulties in giving feedback can be reduced, although not eliminated, by the adoption and use of appropriate processes.
  • Product - ensure any outcomes are specific, believable and achievable.
My next post will focus on one of the most common outcomes of PRAs i.e. Continuous Professional Development and why much of what goes for CPD is not as effective as we would like it to be.