Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me

Strategies for Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

This month I’ve been immersed in the topic of feedback. I’m getting ready to give a seminar for a large company on the value of feedback in the context of teams and team effectiveness. My seminar title is “Everyday Feedback for High Performance Teams.”

As an executive presentation coach, I am paid to give people feedback. I try to balance my feedback with both positive and negative comments, as appropriate, so that the client stays motivated and committed to the process of professional development.

I’ve seen times when feedback works extremely well to create positive changes and build people’s self-esteem and motivation. I have also seen times when feedback discourages and alienates people.

I have also observed how I personally receive feedback from others. Even though I have a philosophy that “feedback is a gift,” I have to work up the courage to ask for it. Then I brace myself for the worst…

Feedback is definitely a two-way street

The road of feedback is not always smoothly paved. Sometimes it is filled with obstacles and detours, and even pot holes that you didn’t see coming.

Sometimes feedback in the workplace is disguised as advice, projection, evaluation, anger, and even sabotage. Rarely can you use that feedback to improve yourself.

The most memorable feedback that I ever received from a peer was the following, “Your management style is like poison.” Needless to say, that feedback was a difficult pill to swallow!

A few of my favorite blog posts on the subject of effective feedback include:

  • Grant Wiggins writes about feedback and its value in the educational system. His article Seven Keys to Effective Feedback outlines a methodology that could also work in the corporate environment, where feedback is poorly practiced. Mr. Wiggins focuses on the quality of the feedback and suggests that we make it: 1) goal-referenced; 2) tangible and transparent; 3) actionable; 4) user-friendly; 5) timely (as opposed to immediate); 6) ongoing; and 7) consistent.
  • Glenn Llopis is a guest blogger on Forbes.com and I find that his business articles are very thought-provoking. He wrote an article entitled 6 Ways Successful Teams are Built to Last. Being proactive with feedback came in at #4 on his list. I am also pleased to see that Get to Know the Rest of the Team is listed as #2. Networking and relationship-building are key ingredients for team success!

“Feedback is simply the art of great communication. It should be something that is part of one’s natural dialogue.” – Glenn Llopis

5-Step Strategy for Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

Sometimes it’s not just WHAT you do, but HOW you do it that makes all the difference. I find that especially true in the dispensing and digestion of constructive feedback. To that end, I developed a 5-step strategy to help you to prepare yourself for the giving and receiving of feedback at work.

  • Click on the image and save it. You can print out this business sized card and keep it in your wallet or on your desk if you like.

Examples of how to work the 5 step strategy for GIVING and RECEIVING feedback

GIVING feedback at work

  1. Examine your motivations. Before you open your mouth and share your feedback, take a few quiet moments to ask yourself, “For the sake of what do I want/need to share this feedback? Am I doing it for me, or to help my colleague? What would happen if I didn’t share this feedback? What do I hope will happen if I do share this feedback? Note: some feedback is ego driven and is best kept to yourself.
  2. Ask for permission. Never offer unsolicited feedback. It can backfire big time. Choose the best timing and environment to offer your feedback. Start with the question, Are you open to some feedback? If they say yes, then proceed. If they say no or not now, stop. Let them seek you out when the time is right for them.
  3. Prioritize your feedback. Don’t make your feedback experience like drinking from a fire hose. Be strategic and thoughtful about the most important feedback that needs to be shared. If you have ten points, you have too many. Narrow them down to the top three. Know the order of importance. What changes will make the most difference in the success of your colleague?
  4. Give specific examples. Share your observations in a nonjudgmental way. Reference specific examples of their behavior (good or bad) that you want to give feedback on. Being too vague or general in your feedback makes it difficult for them to understand or convert into action. Also be careful when making sweeping statements that begin with phrases like “You always…” or “You never…”
  5. Check in. Double check to make sure that they understand your feedback. Use simple phrases like, “Does that make sense to you?” or “Do you see what I’m saying?” or “What questions or comments do you have?” Then stop talking and listen. Pay attention to their body language and eye patterns, which tell you a lot about how your feedback is being received.

RECEIVING feedback at work

It takes a grace and courage to receive someone’s feedback at work. Let me give you a little scripting to help you understand how you might use these five steps to receive feedback that you can use:

  1. Assume open body language. If you notice that you have crossed your arms or are holding your breath, release and relax your body. It’s natural to tighten up and become defensive. Do a quick scan of your body and try to release any grip or tension that you can building up inside of you. Soften your face. Keep your breathing even.
  2. Paraphrase their feedback. After they share their feedback, before you respond to it, make sure that they understand what they are trying to tell you. Repeat back what you have heard without responding in any other way. This is not the time to mind read, jump to conclusions or react. You might say, “If I understand you, you think that …… Do I have that right?”
  3. Request specific examples and ideas. Context and specifics are vital in feedback, so if you don’t get them at first, ask for more specifics. You are not being defensive, but rather trying to bring to the table the specific circumstances surrounding your behavior and actions. Be like a detective and look for the specific clues in this case. For example, you might say, “Can you give me a specific example of what you observed?” followed by “What specific ideas would you suggest that I try the next time this situation arises?”
  4. Ask them to prioritize. It can be overwhelming to receive a deluge of feedback all at once. You can only make so many changes so quickly. So the question is, which change is the most important and will benefit you the most? You might ask, for example, “Of the five things you mentioned as areas of opportunity for me, which would you prioritize as the most important? Which one should I tackle first?”
  5. Thank them. Gratitude for feedback, regardless of its nature, is an important aspect of your professionalism. A thank you costs you nothing, but has high value to the recipient. Take care that your body language and vocal intonation align with the spirit of gratitude. You might say, “Thank you for taking the time to give me this helpful feedback. It shows that you are vested in my career here at the company, and I appreciate that.”

Put this idea into action

Examine your own attitude and behavior regarding the practice of feedback in the workplace. Be honest with yourself about how often you seek it out, how you receive it and what happens when you share your feedback with others. Feedback, like all communication skills, is vital for every professional, at every level, in all disciplines. Sharpening the saw on giving and receiving feedback will help you grow and develop into a more effective, more enlightened leader.

This coming week, use the 5 Part Strategy for Giving and Receiving Feedback. Task yourself to do three things:

  1. Give feedback to a colleague. Then ask for feedback on your feedback. Have a discussion about the topic of feedback. Share the 5 part strategy with him/her.
  2. Receive feedback from a colleague. Then ask for feedback on what it was like for them to give you this feedback.
  3. Seek out feedback from a colleague. That is, ask for it. Share your learning goals with a trusted colleague and ask them to give you feedback when the opportunity next presents itself. Let them know that you value feedback as a development tool.

And remember, that there is no failure, only feedback.

I welcome YOUR FEEDBACK on this blog page on my Facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/NetworkingAhead

One Response to “Strategies for Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work”

  1. Ariel S.

    Hey There. I discovered your blog the use of msn. That is an extremely smartly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I’ll certainly return.


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