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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Implicit Laws Of Giving And Receiving Feedback - The Game Everyone Plays

Sam manages a team of over 25 technical associates, Sarah is one of them. Last week Sarah made a mistake in one of her assignments. Sam immediately caught the error and called a meeting with all the team members. He went on to share the incident along with the details of what went wrong. Sarah was annoyed with the fact that her manager Sam gave her negative feedback in front of the whole team. She approached him and said: I know I made a mistake but is it right for you to give me all the feedback in front of the whole team? You could have done it in private too! I am really disappointed.

Sam responded I had no intentions to make you feel bad in front of the whole team; I was just doing my job and thought that if I share the incident with the whole team then everyone can benefit from the information and avoid making similar mistakes in future.

This is a classic example where the implicit laws of giving and receiving feedback are not being followed. 

Here are those laws:

Never give negative or critical feedback to individuals in a public forum. Everyone has an ego. As a manager you need to be careful of not hurting any one's ego. Make sure that you first share critical or negative feedback in private and then share the information with the larger audience.

Utilize one on one informal discussions as a mode to share critical feedback. Rather than calling up for a formal one on one meeting, a quick discussion over coffee may be a good informal setting to share feedback in one on one discussion. However, if this doesn't work, you may need to go back to a formal setting later.

Avoid sharing critical feedback on e-mail. Emails are best suited for sharing information or action items but e-mail should be avoided as far as sharing critical feedback with a team member is concerned. If arranging an informal meeting is not possible then the next best way is to call for a formal in-person meeting. If you want to record the events then you may capture and share the meeting notes after the meeting is over.

Giving Feedback to Employees

As a manager one needs to careful while giving feedback because one bad experience can have a lot of negative impact on the associate. Sometimes employees feel that the Manager only looks at the negative aspects hence it is very necessary to share the positive feedback from time to time. Unlike critical feedback scenarios, public forums are ideal place to share positive feedback. Managers should encourage the culture of sharing positive feedback in public forums. Following are some tools and techniques to share positive feedback:

  • A quick 'Thank You' and/ or appreciation email
  • Nomination for award or reward certificate
  • Sharing the good work done by the employee in team meeting/ group forums
  • Awarding gift vouchers/ value points as per policy

Receiving feedback from employees

As far as receiving feedback from the employees is concerned, managers should utilize the following proven tools and techniques:

  • One on one meetings
  • Online Surveys
  • Informal group meetings(Like Lunch, Coffee or Tea Meetings)
  • Gamification techniques

Giving or receiving feedback is a tricky thing. Once has to be very careful irrespective of whether you are giving feedback to employees or giving feedback to managers or giving feedback to your boss. While there are so many tools and techniques available some people still find it difficult to share or ask for feedback. Sometimes they are just scared of listening or saying negative things and hence they avoid asking or giving feedback to/ from their boss or employees. In the end, I would like to stress that one should not shy away from giving or receiving feedback because it is a very critical factor in the overall growth of a person/ organization/ society. However, one needs to be careful in picking the right medium of communication to convey as well as receive the message. Needless to say that it should be done in the right spirit, sharing feedback with wicked intentions does not serve any purpose.

To conclude, here is a quote from Ken Blanchard...