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Intranet successes are rarely delivered by individuals they are usually the result of team efforts. Driving performance outcomes through other team members involves being able to provide effective feedback, which is much more subtle than wielding a ‘big stick’. Intranet teams: a leadership and coaching role explains why this is so important. What is often less clear is how to provide feedback in a manner that builds self esteem and encourages team members to do better next time.
How to give feedback
Delivering good feedback takes preparation to balance positive and corrective messages. Before the feedback discussion ensure you are clear on the behaviour you are trying to reinforce or correct and that you can explain how it relates to team outcomes.
Actual delivery of the message involves displaying confidence, establishing boundaries and taking a balanced perspective. You can do this by:
- discussing and agreeing on what the feedback is trying to achieve
- remaining calm and using unemotional language
- delivering a message that is direct, unhesitating and specific
- describing at least one clear example of behaviour and its results
- avoiding judgement by focusing on the behaviour, not your interpretation of it
- providing suggestions on how behaviour can be improved
- providing the opportunity for the recipient to comment on your feedback
- if appropriate, gaining agreement on a course of action
Timing and context of feedback are also important. Attempt to feedback at the same time you see the behaviour, but doing this in front of others such as peers, stakeholders or clients may not be helpful. Also provide feedback regularly so good behaviour can be encouraged and behaviour to be corrected does not get out of hand.
How to receive feedback
In this case it can be better to receive than to give since being on the receiving end of feedback can be just as valuable an experience, but only if you are in a position to make the most of it. Inviting feedback from colleagues and senior stakeholders can also help you fine tune your own performance.
To get the most out of a feedback session make sure you listen. In addition to what was covered in the earlier article Listening for intranet success, remember to:
- try not to be defensive
- avoid interrupting or justifying your position
- encourage the person giving feedback
- accept the feedback, and then
- act on the feedback
If the feedback provider does not give you enough information it may be helpful to ask some well targeted questions like:
- Can you give me a specific example?
- Was there any areas where I did well?
- Can you give me some suggestions on how to avoid this happening next time?
It is natural to be tempted to resist feedback from others, drawing on all of the (often valid) reasons that you think justify what you did. However, while you may not agree with those providing feedback, their perception of you is their reality. So at the very least, you might want to consider how you help change their perception of your actions.
Feeding back is not limited to a downward direction. Feeding back to peers, superiors and stakeholders, if done with tact, can also be useful but make sure you prepare well. You might want to get objective input from others in advance, as your position or skills may not be as strong as you think.
Overall, remember that the criticism is the least effective form of feedback, whereas reinforcement and encouragement are the most powerful.