Monday, January 12, 2015

Feedback - YAY or YUCK?

One of the biggest tools in any area of career is feedback.  Why is this so important?  Because it gives us the outside outlook that we need to see where we can improve.  Most of us cringe when we hear the word "feedback" or "constructive criticism".  Why is that?  It is probably because where most people have the best of intentions, and good information to give, they lack the ability to communicate that feedback in a way that will help, not hurt them.  

The American Management Association (AMA) has a great article that really breaks this subject down.  It shows how to approach this subject better, and where one can improve.  They give four questions that really focus in on the quality of your feedback.  They ask;

Do you know how to give feedback such that the other person:
1. Wants to hear it?
    - Trying to give feedback to someone that doesn't want it is like talking to a teenager.  They think they know more than you, and whatever you say is to make them look bad or wrong.  The trick is to use your language to your advantage.  

2. Can understand it and act on it?
    - How clear are you?  Is it vague and general or specific and detailed?  Do you give examples?  By giving your input, will they know how they can change that behavior or characteristic?  We need to make sure that our language helps us to move them in the right direction.  Asking them questions on your feedback will help to know if you are achieving your objective.

3. Doesn't get defensive?  
     - The last thing you want to do is get them defensive and/or discouraged.  The whole point is to help them improve, not shut you out or kill their motivation.  

4. Respects your opinion?  
     - Respect is really important in feedback because it can help in making the difference between positive feedback and negative feedback.  They will CARE about what you have to say because they look up to and respect you.  

There is a book I recently read, that talks about the importance of getting feedback as well.  I have read a LOT of books lately, so I have to go back through them and find which one it was in and add it to this post later.  

The last part I wanted to add was the suggestions that they give on the AMA article, at the end.  They put it so well, I am going to quote it;

"Here are a few suggestions to get started: 
1. Refine your feedback skills—take seminars, read books, get coaching. The time invested will pay back handsomely in terms of increased employee morale, motivation, and productivity. 
2. Ask your staff for feedback on how you give feedback. Ask for specific examples. Ask them for suggestions on how you can make it more constructive. 
3. Make sure when you do give feedback that you think it through clearly. Avoid fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approaches. 
4. Make sure you give examples. Describe what you saw and heard, rather than abstract judgments like “unprofessional” or “didn’t act like a team player.” 
5. Don’t exaggerate to make a point. If the person has done something twice, don’t say “You’ve done this at least five or six times.” 
6. When giving the person feedback, stop and ask her for her take on what you’re saying. This not only helps you get feedback on how the conversation is going… it helps make sure it IS a conversation, not a monologue."

Giving and getting healthy feedback really is an art form.  You have to practice it and be willing to continually change and master it.  It's not easy, but I promise that you can see a significant difference as you do!  

Rock this week! ~~


  1. This is great, Syra. It actually made me think about how I talk to my kids about the things they need to work on- can I do better on making my criticism more constructive and less blame-y? Hmm...something to think about. :-)

    1. Thanks Kasey... you are truly one of the best examples of self improvement. You amaze me the way that you are always trying to find ways to be better. You are truly amazing. <3

  2. I found this really interesting and though provoking

    1. I did too Jo-Anne, when I first read about this idea. It's a true sign of a strong character to be able to ask and receive feedback, because it can be either positive or negative... but always useful. :)



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