Feedback ~ The Breakfast of Champions

The giving and receiving of feedback is probably one of the most vital skills in management.  According to Ken Blanchard

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

Why Give Feedback

People will not become great at their jobs unless they know where they are doing well, so they can keep on doing these things, and where they need to change to get a better result.  For many employees it is a case of ‘No new is good news’, as they only get to hear if things go wrong.  Have you ever worked in that type of environment?  Feedback is not only key for improving and perfecting performance, but – done in a constructive way – is highly motivational.

But how many of us put off giving feedback or get frustrated that when we do give it, it has little impact?

Why is it that we shy away from both giving it and receiving it?

There are a number of reasons why managers fear giving feedback.  ‘Who am I to judge?’ ‘It won’t be valued’, ‘It will give them a chance to have a go at me.’  ‘They must realise that they are doing it wrong / right’ ‘When I’ve given feedback before, it has made no difference; I feel like I am wasting my breath.’

One of the key reasons we shy away from it is the fear that it won’t be accepted, that we will be challenged on it and put in an awkward situation.   Feedback can be badly received when it’s:

  • Too generalised – not specific enough for effective action to be taken
  • Too personal – based on the person, not the issue(s)
  • Based on something which is not within their power to do anything about
  • Heavily critical – without suggestions for improvement
  • Focused exclusively on the past – recent changes/improvements not taken into account
  • Based on hearsay and gossip – not enough facts to support the arguments
  • An excuse to seek blame – rather than seeking solutions

We’ve probably also all been on the other side of the feedback and know that many people are equally uneasy about receiving it.  So before thinking about how to give feedback it is also worth thinking about it from the recipient’s viewpoint.  Why are we so reluctant to ask for feedback?  Is this fear of the unknown, or that we don’t want to be told what we already know? Does it make us feel exposed, vulnerable or even feel a fool?  Or maybe it is lack of respect for the person giving the feedback – what do they know, who are they to judge?   If we get feedback it may imply that we need to change the way we do things.

More on feedback next week. To get the full article and other related articles now go to my downloads page.

Caroline Cooper

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