“We believe we do a better job at giving feedback than we do.” – Rick Maurer
“Great job, John!”
“I really liked your presentation today, Sharon.”
“Big improvement over last time, Sarah!”
While it’s important to give positive feedback to your colleagues and team members (the more, the better, in fact), not all feedback is created equal.
So while the statements above are positive, they don’t quite deliver the goods. How come?
1) The statements are general, without a lot of detail or specificity;
2) They focus mainly on the feedback giver’s opinion; or
3) how well basic standards may have been met.
Instead of giving your colleagues generic praise on their performance, you can amp up the impact of the feedback, promote more learning and development, and improve your working relationships when you use methods of acknowledging performance.
- is specific (about what was done well, or what you appreciated)
- makes an observation (points to a specific characteristic, skill, talent, quality or attribute that contributes to the success)
- focuses on impact (what happened positively at the individual, team or organizational level as a result of the activity or action)
So, the earlier examples could be reworked to something like this:
“John, your facilitation of today’s meeting really helped us accomplish a lot in a short amount of time!”
“Sharon, your use of graphics in your presentation really made the information so clear and accessible for me.”
“Sarah, I can really see how that class you took on effective feedback is helping you and your team work together better.”
Can you see and feel the difference?
While praise isn’t wrong, per se, as a method of feedback, acknowledgment is more powerful and useful. Get your own copy here of the handy graphic above!
(And to get extra bonus points: this also works great with kids, partners, spouses, etc., as well as at work)
Now it’s your turn: what’s your experience with giving or receiving feedback? What works?
Try using acknowledgment and let me know what happens!
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Michele Roden says
Thanks for a great article Hanna. I’m with you, the more specific and descriptive the feedback the better. It helps the receiver grow.
Recently I listened to a talk by Brene Brown where she said “If you are going to give me feedback, I want you in the arena fighting with me.” I find it important to consider when information is shared for the good of all, to make a difference.
Thank you for providing a thoughtful topic.
Hanna Cooper says
Thanks, Michele! I’ve heard this version of that quote of Brene’s – “If you’re not in the arena with me, I’m not interested in your feedback.” It’s a great point that we also have to earn the right to offer our feedback – that it’s not a given that it’s welcome or useful, necessarily. Always better to have a choice. Thanks for chiming in!