Why is Feedback Important?28 March 2019
Imagine that there is a black, light-proof band in front of our eyes. We are in a large room where we are groping around. There are also other people in the same situation as us - they cannot communicate with us. We are alone in the darkness.
That's exactly how the world would look without feedback. Without knowing what we are doing properly or what needs to be improved, we can’t talk about developing our skillsets, or even simply just living. For example , how do you raise a child or adapt to living in a society? In our lives, we subconsciously base our actions on feedback. Why not consciously use it in the workplace?
Feedback is a powerful tool. However, you should be able to use it and handle it properly. The goal of feedback, is always to enlighten a listener on an aspect their process or behaviour that was unknown to them. It governs its own laws and rules.
The rules – What is feedback?
Feedback only concerns the conduct of a particular person. You should never comment on who someone is - no one is perfect. It should also be remembered that feedback comes from our subjective viewpoint. We may not be aware of the contributing factors that affect the actions of a given individual.
What is important, is to get rid of the concept of personal infallibility, and take the feedback for what it is.
Feedback is a gift. When receiving or giving it, proceed exactly as you would with a gift. Respect the time and effort made by the person giving it - smile and say thank you. Take this gift home and try to separate your emotions from your behavior, consider whether the present is practical and whether you intend to use it. If you come to the conclusion that you can’t - simply hide it away in the back of your closet and forget about it. The most important thing, however, is to behave in a way that shows you appreciate the contribution of the other person and not immediately start defending yourself. In receiving feedback, we should not concentrate on defending ourselves from a critical opinion, rather on drawing conclusions from it. Emotions offer poor advice and you have to remember that the person giving feedback is ultimately trying to help.
Avoid the statement "but" - there is no good explanation for using it. Saying “that’s a good idea, but I would do it differently”, not only focuses the listener's attention on the negative aspect, it also demotivates them - why continue if it's already wrong and someone else can do it better?
Positive feedback is as important as it is constructive. It's best to visualize this with an example of the hotter/colder game. With only the information that you are doing something wrong, there is very little that you can do. Similarly, it's hard to measure your progress only knowing that the first step was good, but not getting any other feedback. Only with both these two key pieces of information can you reach the goal quickly and efficiently. Positive feedback increases self-confidence and, more importantly, self-esteem. It’s used to recognize a job well done. Unfortunately, it’s often neglected and negated - it’s important to learn to accept praise. Everyone likes to have their work acknowledged and appreciated. This is also important for new employees who lack experience and are looking for confirmation - if they’re not encouraged, they may develop a reluctance in decision making or begin to second guess themselves.
The tool – How to use it.
There are many models for facilitating feedback, but if you haven’t experienced them, then you don’t have the skills to use them.
The most frequently used model is the BIO model, which divides our statements into 3 sections:
Behavior - Behavior
Impact / I-message - Influence / message type "I"
With the first one we’re talking about the behavior that the feedback is about. Importantly, it is necessary to recall a specific event and avoid generalizing with statements that involve "you never / you always". It’s also good to mention when a given situation took place, but be reasonable, events from the year before no one will probably remember.
The second part is the effect that the behavior had on us. Here we’re talk ing about how we feel. Don’t judge the other person – only talk about their behavior. The difference in the tone of the speech is noticeable - you can say "speak louder" or "I cannot hear you". What we convey does not change, but it does significantly affect how it’s received. You should never give feedback based on assumptions or comments from other people - speak on your own behalf and talk about your own observations.
In the end, we are talking about a chance to improve, or how to do better with the next opportunity. It’s about suggesting how we would act in that situation, and why we think it’s a better solution. This part is very important, without it our feedback would be mere criticism. It’s easier to point out what’s wrong than explain how to do it right.
Why is this worth using in your company?
When working in a company, it’s common not to want to draw attention to someone in fear that it will be taken the wrong way. On the other hand, there are employees who are always dishing out their opinions without reflecting on how it may make others feel. Developing the skills to correctly give and receive feedback is crucial for a company's development, ensuring that the office atmosphere remains professional when opinions are exchanged and feedback is given.
Feedback does not have to concern only employee/supervisor relationships. It’s important that colleagues exchange feedback with each other - attention, support and exchange of ideas is important for every task. Thanks to that, a team is stronger than the individuals within it. The basis of a good team is communication and feedback - and good teams are the basis of a good company.
Our teams use feedback in several ways, two play the most important role. The first one is everyday feedback. We work to openly express our opinions, pointing out the aspects of day to day tasks that need to be enhanced while encouraging those that are appreciated. This approach allows us to resolve conflicts before they actually manifest, while simultaneously supporting an atmosphere that expresses appreciation for each other.
The second type of feedback, which proves to be very important while managing projects, is the one we use in retrospect. It’s at this point that you have the time to analyze previous team meetings, allowing you to draw as many conclusions as possible. It’s not just about reflecting on yourself, what went well and what can be improved upon, but also about what the rest of the team thinks about your work. This is useful because it not only helps to develop your team but also has a positive impact on projects. In the end, this allows us to see how to improve the quality and delivery of the products we offer, which translates into comfort and satisfaction for our business partners.