‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’
As much as this quote has been overused, it is a timeless piece of advice that is as perennial as the grass. Yet how often do we move away when someone gives you feedback? You see, it is how we take on board that feedback which has been given, and usually for good reason. When was the last time you received feedback from a family member, work colleague or close friend? How did you receive it? Now this is the key question. Let’s explore the concept of positive versus negative feedback a little
Positive V Negative feedback
Feedback and criticism may well be used interchangeably but they are not one and the same. When we offer ‘constructive criticism’ it is ordinarily framed positively in that the person offering feedback will provide presumably sound advice. Take it all with a grain of salt but any feedback you receive, whether you knew it coming or otherwise, will only make us better.
Often criticism is blunt and venomous whereas feedback seeks to present a pathway to a solution for that person or group of people (take a sporting team as opposed to an individual athlete). Feedback is constructive in the following ways:
Intelligent questions are asked by the coach: ‘How do you feel you did’? This kind of open question allows the person autonomy to reflect and offer a deeper response then if the coach said: ‘I feel you could have done x, y and z better’. Here the coach has led and criticised from the get go.
Feedback is offered in a suitable environment:
Finding a good place for one on one feedback is important as it will diffuse the pressure for the client, student or athlete. Imagine receiving feedback in front of your peers when you did not see it coming. Will you go toward or away from receiving that feedback positively?
Know the strengths of the person you are giving feedback to: If you have not built trust or know the client or student very well then feedback is but an empty jar of intentions. Know the persons’ strengths and work with those first
Feedback is measured with performance: Establishing key KPI’s for clients and students will back up any feedback you provide. Rather than plucking to criticise, sit down and allow the person ‘psychological air’ to provide a response to your question. Seek first to listen! Know their key performance indicators and provide feedback in the context of these. That way you know that the expectations you have set for them are realistic or not doing the job you intended them to do when you first set them. Always reflect, refine then define once again your KPI’s
Being nice V Tough Love
Are you the type of coach that sugar coats things in a glaze of niceness? By shying away from the meat of the feedback we often miss the point. To not hurt the feelings of someone only comes back to bite you twice as hard. Do not shy away from tough love and offer insightful feedback that will strengthen and reinforce the purpose of your role as coach and the confidence and trust you have built with that person.
With all this said, it is important to be mindful when implementing a system of feedback whether it is releasing a new product and service to your target market; asking members for feedback on your classes or giving one on one feedback to your team members or clients. Being mindful requires us to be aware of the questions we are asking and our ability to listen and provide some wisdom to help overcome a problem
In our next principle ‘critique not criticise, we will delve into the concept of one on one feedback and how to create a framework for positive solutions.