We are all required to give feedback in a business context, maybe on a colleague’s performance, on the products or services of a supplier or on how to streamline a company’s processes by filling in a questionnaire. Feedback can be a very useful tool as it offers others a glimpse of how you experience them and it highlights the impact (good or bad) they have on you or the company.
In the words of Doug Lowenstein, founder and former president of the Entertainment Software Association: “Everybody needs feedback, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than paying a trainer.” Your feedback is therefore a gift that can empower another person with knowledge to understand what he or she should keep doing and what can be improved.
The following guidelines can help you to give feedback in a way that will empower the receiver with useful knowledge:
Start by explaining your intent. This gives the receiver of the feedback an indication of what to do with the feedback. Sometimes this also helps the receiver to be more relaxed, knowing where the conversation is heading. An example of stating the intent is: “I would like to tell you about my experience of your service as I would like to use this service in future. I would like to have the followings areas addressed…”
If the feedback is negative, begin and end with something genuinely positive. This puts your feedback in context and the receiver will perceive you feedback as fair and reasonable.
Focus on the specific issue at hand. Do not use this opportunity to resurrect old issues, unless they are related to the issue under discussion.
Be specific in your feedback and avoid the words always and never. Rather qualify your feedback. Avoid saying: “She is always rude to me and never helps to me”. Rather say: “She is very rude to me when I ask her to help me set up meetings.”
Suggest actions that you think can be taken to continue or improve the current situation. Always check with the receiver whether your feedback is clear and understandable. Ask if they would like to clarify anything you have said.
Always be respectful of the person you are giving the feedback on. The purpose of the feedback is not to attack the person but to highlight issues of concern.
I would appreciate your feedback on whether you have found these tips useful and would like to hear if there are any other tips you would like to add. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.