The three wise monkeys – japanese proverb  „see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil”

The power of feedback – how to use it?

Do you know that nobody likes to give feedback but everybody wants to receive it?

It relates mostly to negative  feedback. What are the roots of this paradox?
As it results from the research conducted by  Zenger/Folkman on a  global sample of leaders who were are asked the type of feedback they prefere to give, 56% prefers to give negative feedback, 31% positive and for 12% the preferences are even. Leaders who tend to give more of the negative feedback are without surprise more critical and they have less trust and confidence in team members. On the contrary the ones who give more of the positive feedback have the intention to praise others and motivate them.
In the research on effectiveness of leaders with both preferences it appears that the ones giving positive feedback are more effective  (47 percentile) in relation to the negative feedback (35 percentile).

Behaviours  linked to a higher frequency of positive feedback

There are four factors:

  • interest in own development with a growth mentality and openness to feedback and suggestions from others
  • concern for others
  • focus on developing others
  • use of  pull motivation, which is about recognition and inspiration rather than push motivation built on goal setting, holding others accountable.

Why do we need the feedback?

Feedback is necessary for achievement of goals, development and motivations. It works for:

  • increasing awareness about our actions
  • keeping on track
  • possibility to make changes in line with the expectations
  • learning and growth
  • intrinsic motivation
  • doing the job right

Feedback plays a central role in development of competencies and confidence.

Feedback delivered in the appropriate way drives change and development.

How does the feedback process go?

1. It starts after we get the consent to give it.

2. We open the conversation asking about what the other person did and how satisfied the person is because of the outcome. This is a test for accountability, initiative and readiness to learn. These two questions probe awareness when it comes to progress and misteps. 

3. Afterwards we move to the feedback and we describe our observations.  We base them on facts and then we describe our feelins and point out the consequences of certain actions/behaviours.

4. If this is corrective feedback, we specify 1-2 items to be improved and we ask for reaction.

5. At the end of the meeting we agree the next steps.

It is important how we do it and therefore we use the I-message in contrast to You-message which brings an opinion about a person. We avoid WE-message used mostly in the corporate communication as it makes the ownership unclear. Furthermore we need to remember to give a balanced feedback while talking about achievements and mistakes. Feedback which is just negative is perceived as criticism and an attack, which results in defence mechanims and blocking the learning process.

In this process the reflection of the person receiving feedback is crucial. It is simply necessary to take advantage of the opportunity to grow.

Most popular feedback models will be discussed in the next article.


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