Feedback: Pick the Right Time and Approach

The process of sharing feedback with colleagues is essential in business. Clear, consistent feedback develops skills, builds confidence and motivates. But, too much or poorly timed feedback can destroy confidence and undermine trust. If you are planning on giving negative feedback to a colleague or employee, it’s crucial that you pick the right time and approach.

Schedule a Feedback Meeting

There is nothing worse than hearing “do you have a minute to chat” while walking to the restroom. Planning ahead gives you time to gather facts and reflect on the feedback in a non-emotional way. And, the person receiving the feedback won’t be blindsided. They will come to the meeting more open and prepared to hear feedback.

Make Sure the Feedback is Significant and Supported

Before you deliver feedback, reflect on what you plan to discuss. The feedback should be substantial and directly relate to a professional development opportunity or impact on the organization. Be sure to gather concrete examples to support the feedback.

If the feedback doesn’t
impact the business or isn’t helpful to the individual’s development, it’s best to hold your tongue. Feedback should never be “nitpicky,” trivial, or unsupported. This type of feedback can result in damaged relationships and resentment.

Ask Questions

Don’t go into a feedback meeting thinking that you are going to tell someone they need to change and it’s just going to happen. After you raise an issue, ask open-ended questions to gauge whether it’s an appropriate time to deliver feedback. You can say “What is your perspective?” or “Would it be OK if I gave you feedback about …?” You should also ask questions to uncover the cause of the issue. Maybe the feedback recipient has a problem you were unaware of. Finally, ask the recipient for solutions and collaborate.

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