Fighting Fear of Feedback

fb 2    feedback

There is so much to talk when the word ‘feedback’ comes to my mind. If we see the literal definition, that doesn’t state the purpose or importance of the same.

What is feedback?

When we talk about giving feedback: Is it a response to the outcome of a task or an input based on previous outcomes for a new task to be assigned? Or is it an investment in the employee for the future? Or is it to let the employee know its value/strength to motivate him? Or is it to aspire employee to achieve higher results?

When we talk about receiving feedback: Is it a way of knowing whether you are heading the right way and that the team is still following you on the same route? Is it important because you know your strengths and can improve your weaknesses? Is it to know whether you and your team have the same definition of ‘organizational goals’?

It’s all of the above and much more.

First and foremost we all need feedback, whether it’s a manager or an employee or a CEO. Even leaders need feedback. Peter Drucker wrote “The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis”. At the CEO level these may be conversations for future development both personal as well as for the organization as a whole.

Secondly, feedback is a two way process or should I say, ‘should be’ a two way process. The person going to deliver a feedback must open up to hear as well.Feedback makes a lot of us anxious therefore it is always feared to be negative. So when you are going out there to tell the truth, place it in a conversation rather than a monologue.

Based on my experience, below are some pointers for effective feedback:


  1. Feedback is not an annual exercise for appraisals. It’s like a circle, one step follows the other – observe, share, review, share and repeat.
  2. Plan a feedback. Get facts and only facts neither assumptions nor feelings. Be clear of the objective of the feedback.
  3. Take a time suitable for both the person giving as well as receiving feedback.
  4. Your body language should be positive, don’t hide behind a table or stand next to the door as if you will run away at the first opportunity.
  5. Never use words like ‘You are a good worker but…’; ‘I am very disappointed’; ‘We need to talk’. The receiver will close immediately to hear what you have to share.
  6. Listening is important. A feedback can improve not just the performance but the bond between you and your team
  7. Do not interrupt.
  8. If you cannot be proactive atleast be reactive. Don’t delay a feedback.
  9. Use skip level feedbacks to motivate employees, it work wonders.

We need to be honest, open and receptive, and then the teams will be more engaged towards improvement. However for your top performers, feedback must acknowledge the achievements before sharing the areas of improvement.

Do you know?

Even successful leaders and the most effective managers have anxiety attacks when they have to deliver a feedback.

Majority of people prefer to receive developmental feedback and praise rather than giving a developmental feedback.

Gen Y is keener on receiving feedback on areas of improvement rather than giving sharing praise through feedback.

Many leaders don’t even want an honest feedback because they feel vulnerable.

Your top performer also needs feedback and these are the most difficult feedbacks. Frequency of feedback should be higher for high performing employees to keep them focused and motivated.


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