How to receive feedback from your manager
As my good friend @Quicklearn said on twitter a few days ago:
“So much written on how to give feedback. What help is out there for those destined to receive it?”
It promoted me to think.. in this light hearted reply (well it is the August silly season) lets look at the feedback methods and what they actually mean for you the recipient:
The feedback sandwich:
- Praise (Bread)
- ‘Feedback’ (Meat)
- Praise (Bread)
This approach is not to help us the recipient feel good – it is to soften the message for the giver. We all learn very quickly that when ‘good’ stuff is mentioned we know that “here come the message”. We hear the criticism and are so busy focused on the negative that we do not hear the follow on good stuff. This is not helped as the ‘good stuff’ is usually so fluffy that it is meaningless.
Managers – do not use this.
McGill provide these useful suggestions about giving effective feedback, here with comments for the recipients as to what is attempting to be achieved:
- Clarity — Be clear about what you want to say. – as recipients we understand the purpose
- Emphasise the positive — This isn’t being collusive in the person’s dilemma – we are not all bad just this one mistake
- Be specific — Avoid general comments and clarify pronouns such as “it,” “that,” etc. – we need to know exactly what we did wrong/ incorrectly
- Focus on behaviour rather than the person – we are human and our intension was positive although our action may not have been appropriate
- Refer to behaviour that can be changed – the manager is trying to help us here
- Be descriptive rather than evaluative – they are giving use the facts as they see it without bias
- Own the feedback – Use ‘I’ statements – the feedback is from them as a person
- Generalisations – Notice “all,” “never,” “always,” etc., and ask to get more specificity — often these words are arbitrary limits on behaviour – the more general the manager makes the feedback the more defencive we get as it feels like we are being attacked.
- Be very careful with advice – People rarely struggle with an issue because of the lack of some specific piece of information; often, the best help is helping the person to come to a better understanding of their issue, how it developed, and how they can identify actions to address the issue more effectively.- we will only listen to ‘advice’ if we trust the person and have respect for their views
Ref Action learning: A practitioner’s guide”, London: Kogan Page, 1994, p. 159-163
What good and bad experiences have you had? How do you best receive feedback?
Knowing how to receive feedback is an important skill, as managers give it so badly in the first place!
Page reviewed May 2015