12 Principles of Feedback for Constructive Results
Gathering and giving feedback is an important part of the journey of improving a company or your professional career. It can be a constructive and insightful process that benefits all parties involved. If you’re interested in learning how to give or receive better feedback, it can be helpful to learn a few good practices and how to use them for a more successful experience. In this article, we explain what feedback is and explore 10 basic principles of feedback.
What is feedback?
Feedback is input that one or multiple people give to another person or group of people about a specific product, service, program or experience. Typically, feedback, such as constructive criticism, is offered in order to improve an experience or performance. This isn’t always the case, as sometimes, feedback is only a positive or negative comment that doesn’t offer insight into how an experience may improve.
Feedback can be given both publicly and privately. For instance, a restaurant patron may write an online review of the restaurant on a social media platform, making it public feedback. In contrast, a patron at a retail store may speak with a manger during checkout to offer private input on their shopping experience.
12 principles of feedback
There are several common principles one can follow when giving feedback. Following these guidelines can improve the constructive qualities and result of any suggestive advice. Consider these 12 essential concepts:
1. Keep it balanced
While giving feedback to people, it’s important to balance your evaluations, especially if most of your feedback addresses negative topics. Consider balancing out the negative with positive feedback at the conclusion of the meeting. Doing so can help keep spirits high and motivate the individual to change and affirm that they’re able to make these changes.
2. Be honest
It’s important to be as truthful as possible when offering feedback so the feedback’s founded on accuracy and authenticity. If you feel a certain way about how an individual performed or how someone reacted to an experience, you can relay these feelings in a truthful manner. This allows a space where honesty can flourish and can encourage the person receiving feedback to feel as if they can be honest and open as well.
3. Stay timely
Feedback that’s given in a timely manner often proves to be most effective in facilitating change. The best time to offer feedback is shortly following the event that initially prompts the evaluation. This helps to recognize a behavior before it can happen again. Depending on how much feedback you give and its level of severity, offer to discuss it again after a day or two.
4. Actively listen
After giving feedback, the individual receiving the feedback may want to have further discussion about the subject. Being willing to listen to what the individual has to say, such as their reasoning behind the experience in question or any questions they may have, is important. Actively listening can help the meeting be as positive, open and effective as possible.
5. Offer solutions
When giving feedback, it’s helpful to offer accompanying solutions to any problems you may discuss. This way, the individual receiving feedback has a means of correcting the behavior or experiences that prompted the evaluation. Being willing to help the individual tackle any issues can also show your active support for the person and act as a motivation for change.
6. Follow up
Ensuring that you follow up after giving feedback is essential to the entire process. Doing so helps you determine if your feedback has been received and has facilitated change. It also demonstrates that you’re mindful of the individual’s professional growth and are interested in learning about it.
7. Clearly establish objectives
Clearly outlining your specific goals and objectives for the person receiving feedback is essential for facilitating change. Reviewing your goals and objectives can ensure that all parties involved understand your mission. By doing so, you can also compare the clearly outlined objectives with the items you’re giving feedback on and see how they relate to or differ from each other.
8. Connect feedback to future goals
Attaching the goals of the individual’s current feedback to their long-term professional goals can provide additional motivation to make change. Demonstrating how these changes can be personally advantageous can remind the individual that you’re providing constructive criticism, not trying to highlight negative behavior. Help them by connecting the feedback to goal-setting, strategies and practice.
9. Be specific
Being as specific as possible when offering feedback can help the individual gain as much context and details about how they can improve. For instance, if you’re offering input on someone’s general bedside manner, you may review specific instances when they were challenged in using a good bedside manner. This can help them visualize your feedback as well.
10. Offer praise
Feedback may be difficult for people to hear if even it’s constructive, so it’s important to offer affirmation while doing so. Emphasizing an individual’s excellent qualities or traits can act as positive reinforcement and encourage change if needed. Ending the feedback session with affirmations can stimulate change and create a positive environment.
11. Choose the right place
While it’s important to choose the right time to offer feedback, it’s equally important to share it in the proper environment. Setting up a private and quiet meeting ensures the confidentiality of the conversation. It also offers a calm setting for any challenging topics.
12. Use good communication practices
When offering feedback, establish credibility by relating to the person you’re having a conversation with. Use eye contact and nonverbal communication to demonstrate your empathy for their situation. Keep your emotions calm and manage the stress in the situation. Be courteous and clear as you ask questions and listen to their answers.