How To Give Effective Feedback

Last week I  joined a Leadership & Personality seminar in Berlin. What I want to share with you is very interesting. I would not think that giving feedback has to be hard. During the seminar we observed specific behaviors of the participants for example their presentations, crisis talks etc. and I realised that it requires a huge amount of  carefulness. It doesn’t matter what topic you are giving feedback about but there is a basic art and method to give feedback in an effective way. Here are some ways to give effective feedback.

  • First start and impression

First of all you should make sure that the person is willing to listen to you and wants to know more about your opinion. During the seminar I had one participant to observe. Then in the feedback session my first question to him was ‘Do you want to receive feedback from me?’ This first question created a positive impression and I could get his awareness about the topic.

  • Structure your feedback session

Feedback should include both positive and negative perceptions. After I clarified that the person wants to hear my feedback I started with someting positive that I observed. Then I continued with a negative example which could be actually improved in an other way. This structure helped me a lot because I built up a trustful and friendly talk between us. At the end I summarized my suggestions which could help him for future situations.  This way you can raise the motivation of the person and encourage him for further self development.

  • Focusing to a SPECIFIC behaviour in a PARTICULAR situation

This is very important because if you can not give a specific example to a particular situation, your feedback will not be successful. During the talk with my participant I always provided an example. I observed that this helped him first think and realize the situation. He was mostly conviced with my feedback by seeing it through my eyes. You should emphasize that your feedback is YOUR opinion about his specific BEHAVIOUR but not his personality.

  • Short and sweet – Do not overload feedback sessions

Idealy a feedback session can take about 15 min.  It is much better to give people brief and specific feedback to avoid mixed and confusing messages. Make sure that it doesn’t turn out to a discussion. Try to keep questions short and manage emotions of a person.

  • Three main questions to consider

When you are giving feedback, the three questions you should consider are:

- What did I observe?

- How did I see the situation personally?

- What would I recommend to the person for the future?

Furthermore you can also use these sentences below to structure your feedback session:

-What I have found very good is..

- What I would wish that…/If I would be in your positon..

- In my opinion…/For the future what you could improve is…

Last but not least,  it is certain that every feedback counts! If you experience that a person listens to you and keeps eye contact during your session it means your message has been received. By following the body language of the person you can see if further sessions are neccesarry. As feedback process focuses on the past behaviuor however also on the future development, the good thing is to see the improvement of the persons and achievement the goals.

Coaching techniques must be learnt by managers to improve their employees.  Human resources development point of view, feedback sessions should be provided to employees within coaching processes as part of people development.

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