Have you ever had your boss pull you aside to give you some feedback, but you left feeling confused about what they were even talking about? It happens more often than not. On the flip side, have you ever had someone give you feedback that left you feeling satisfied, appreciated, and motivated to do better? That kind of feedback is the best feedback – and the best feedback sounds something like this:
The Best Feedback Is Specific
If you ever had someone read over a paper you wrote in high school or college, you may have felt frustrated when the only thing someone said about the essay was that it was “good.” Not helpful!
If you’re ever giving feedback to someone, try to be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re giving feedback on someone’s presentation, tell them how you felt about the person’s voice, the content of the presentation, or their pacing. Being as specific as possible gives the recipient a true sense of how they did, and gives them places to improve upon.
If you’re ever getting feedback from someone, and you’re just not understanding what about your project was “good,” it’s okay to ask them for specifics about their feedback! You might ask them what about your project was “good,” or what parts were the weakest. Make sure you thank them for giving you feedback, too – it’s really hard to give feedback sometimes!
The Best Feedback is Timely
When you give feedback in a timely fashion after an event, it shows the recipient that you actually care. The longer you wait to give feedback, the more likely you and the recipient will forget the details about what worked and what didn’t work. Trying to talk about something you can’t remember puts both of you in a bad spot, so avoid it as much as possible.
This is particularly helpful when you’re giving negative feedback. For example, if someone was supposed to help you out on a project, but didn’t do their part, letting them know sooner rather than later helps prevent grudges from forming. It’s not healthy for anyone to hold onto negative emotions, and getting the uncomfortable conversation over with will help both parties in the long run.
The Best Feedback is Documented
Having all feedback documented in employee personnel files makes it much easier to track how employees are doing. Say you have an employee who is chronically late to work – it’s harder to determine consequences if you’re relying on your memory to figure out what consequences you’ve implemented. If the employee fights your claims, you also have very little hard evidence at your disposal if it’s not written down.
However, if you document all instances of feedback – both positive and negative – it allows you to clearly see what employees are doing well and which ones just aren’t getting the message. It also gives you hard evidence if anyone disputes your management decisions.
Feedback is a difficult art to master, but if you try to give feedback just as you’d like to receive it, you’ll find people will appreciate what you have to say more and more. They might even ask for your feedback over others, and that’s the biggest compliment you could get!