As young professionals, we have been receiving feedback for many years. From a young age we received feedback from our teachers and coaches, from our professors in college, and from our supervisors once we entered the working world. However, as we grow in our careers and are faced with the task of providing feedback, it can be nerve-racking. What we may find is that our vast experience as feedback recipients doesn’t always prepare us to be good providers of feedback to others. Below are some guidelines that can help make conversations easier, and feedback more valuable.
Feedback should be timely.
Whether we are confrontation adverse, or simply busy with other obligations, feedback can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. However, the longer you wait to give feedback, the less valuable it will be. Constructive feedback can help improve development and positive feedback can increase confidence, both leading to better performance. So the sooner feedback is received, the sooner the recipient can benefit from it. This will have a positive impact on everyone that person works with. So don’t wait until this end of busy season, or the end of the year.
Feedback can be informal.
Feedback doesn’t always have to take the form of an official evaluation. While working with less experienced colleagues, try to look for opportunities to observe their performance whenever possible. This includes not only reviewing work they have completed, but also noticing their interactions with clients and peers. It doesn’t take long to tell someone how well written their email was to a client, or that they should consider changing the way they approach a certain task. However, these small pieces of advice can make a big difference.
Always be candid.
Reference specific items (a presentation that did not go smoothly, or a project that was completed well) and why their performance matters (the presentation may have impacted a client relationship, you saved time by being able to review their work on the project more quickly than expected.) Avoid providing feedback based on something you heard secondhand.
Trust is crucial.
Part of providing effective feedback is building a trusting relationship. Think about it – do you respond differently to feedback from people you trust more compared to those you trust less? It’s important to reinforce the intentions behind your feedback. The goal should be to provide additional development opportunities.
As busy season comes to a close, many of us will be tasked with providing formal evaluations. Keeping the above guidelines in mind when providing feedback can help both parties benefit from what can be a difficult process. With experience, we can all become feedback pros – and not wait until the end of busy season to let others know how they are doing!