Feedback in the workplace is a funny thing. It’s inevitable but can be uncomfortable. It helps improve productivity but can be hard to hear. Knowing how to give and get feedback can separate the good professionals from the great ones.
Feedback is sharing an observation or information about a work process or product that is intended to assist in improvement. Many of us have experienced receiving feedback in a way that makes it difficult to hear, and some of us have given feedback that wasn’t received well. Both giving and receiving feedback are skills that must be learned and practiced. Here are some suggestions to ponder for giving and receiving feedback.
Know your style. There are many communication styles, and we all have a type or a language to which we are naturally more inclined. Our preferred technique for providing feedback often mirrors how we prefer to receive feedback. Those of us who like more direct feedback tend to want to get to the point; no sugar coating and often deliver feedback in the same fashion. Others want to feedback in written format as it allows for time to process and craft a message. Understanding what style of communication makes you uncomfortable is also helpful as it can help you anticipate and plan appropriately when confronted with it.
Know the styles of your colleagues. Through observation or direct conversation, you can learn about the styles of your coworkers. When providing feedback, the goal is to deliver feedback in a manner that can be received and digested. Adapting your preferred communication style to match the style of your colleague or supervisor may help them hear it the right context.
Solicit feedback. Many of us have been on the other end of unsolicited feedback both professionally and personally. Receiving uninvited input that can be jarring, and the best way to handle that is to be polite and move on. In the workplace, it can be helpful to invite feedback when you’re ready. This allows you to be prepared for the information and ready to receive it. Soliciting feedback is also a great way to show that you’re engaged, interested in doing the best possible work, and a team player.
Use positive feedback with supervisors. Giving critical feedback to supervisors can be very uncomfortable, and depending on the supervisor, sometimes unwelcome. Offering positive reinforcement to your supervisor is a great way give them feedback on what works well for you. For example, if you’d like to communicate to your supervisor that you need more support, you might say, “I like when you give me feedback on my work. It helps me know that I’m on the right track.” If you think your boss needs to loosen the reigns and let you take a little more control of a project, you could say, “Thanks for letting me take some more ownership of the project. It helps when you let me have space to be creative.” Using positive messaging to deliver needs is a great way to share feedback with managers in an honest way and bypass any awkwardness.