Communicate for Performance
By the end of this lesson, you are expected:
– to understand the purpose of effective feedback;
– to discover some feedback management tools;
– to practice feedback as a personal development technique;
– to discover the feedforward concept;
According to you, why is feedback important?
The term ‘feedback’ is used to describe the helpful information or criticism about prior action or behaviour from an individual, communicated to another individual (or a group) who can use that information to adjust and improve current and future actions and behaviours.
Feedback, and opportunities to use that feedback, helps to improve and enhance, whether an individual, group, business, business unit, company, or organisation – and that information can be used to make better informed decisions. It also allows us to build and maintain communication with others.
Here are 5 reasons why feedback might be the most valued communication skill:
– Feedback is there all the time
Every time we speak or listen to another person, in our tone of voice, in the words we use, in the silences which we allow, we communicate feedback – how far we trust, how much we respect, the degree to which we love, like or even hate the person in front of us.
– Feedback is just another word for effective listening
When one human being speaks to another, he or she needs to experience two very fundamental things – they need to know that they have been understood, and they need to feel that what they said had some form of value.
– Feedback is an opportunity to motivate
Positive feedback is all about taking the opportunity to express appreciation of a job well done, in the hope of inspiring an individual to do many more jobs even better.
– Feedback is essential to develop performance
When we talk about performance, one could easily fall into the trap of seeing criticism as feedback. Good feedback feels like support in your own learning. If you think about the communication model: effective feedback is understood in a way that leads to the anticipated actions.
Good feedback, hence, leads to better performance.
– Feedback is a way to keep learning
Invest time in asking and learning about how others experience working with you and/or your organisation. It is one of the ways to make sure we don’t continue making the same mistakes.
You might find it tough to listen to others’ sometimes ill-founded opinions about your behaviour. But it is what it is; an external input and not a fact. And if people are thinking it, you may not need to accept it, but you need to manage the perception by explaining more about what you do and why you do it the way you do. It takes time, of course, but probably saves time in the long run.
To make feedback effective for motivating people, improving work efficiency, developing others, creating a proper work environment, creating synergy and connection in your team, one must look at the intention.
An additional angle to deal with feedback is the individuals’, and/or group development, which should be the main goal.
Effective feedback is meant to improve the quality of the product/outcome, AND increase confidence, encourage continued high-performance and leverage what is effectively done.
Discover some characteristics of Effective Feedback…
While this list is by no means all-inclusive, constructive feedback should be specific, timely, meaningful and candid. Let’s look at these attributes.
Feedback should have a clear business focus. Instead of – “there are a number of things you do that really bother me” – what exactly are some of those things, and why do they bother you?
A feedback session should focus on only a few issues. Otherwise you run the risk of the person feeling attacked and demoralised.
You should also stick to behaviours the person can actually change or influence.
Feedback should be offered as close as possible to the action in question. It makes no sense to say, five months after the fact, “You know, Tom you did a terrific job developing that new dog food back in April.” Or, similarly, to note, “You know, Tom, I really wasn’t happy with that new cat food you introduced back in March.”
Give the feedback from your perspective. This way you avoid labelling the person.
Say, “I was angry and hurt when you criticised my report in front of my boss” rather than “You were insensitive yesterday.”
Feedback is a process that requires constant attention. When something needs to be said, say it. People then know where they stand all the time and there are few surprises. Also, problems don’t get out of hand. This is not a once-a-year or a once-every-three-month event. While this may be the timing of formal feedback, informal, simple feedback should be given much more often than this – perhaps every week or even every day, depending on the situation.
With frequent informal feedback like this, nothing said during formal feedback sessions should be unexpected, surprising or particularly difficult.
Better still, add content and precision to the management message. “Thomasina, you did a terrific job building a cohesive team for that dog food development meeting yesterday!” Or, likewise, “Thomasina, I really wasn’t happy with the amount of conflict and wasted time we had in that cat food introduction meeting yesterday.”
Make sure you both know what needs to be done to improve the situation. The main message should be that you care and want to help the person grow and develop. Set goals and make plans to monitor and evaluate progress
It’s all too easy to avoid tough issues when they emerge. Or to not take the time to praise someone even when it’s well deserved.
When providing feedback, be honest!
Let’s face it, some feedback can hurt. Especially when carelessly provided. We all say we want feedback, but we don’t really. What we truly want is to be liked, to be loved, to fit in, to learn, to grow, to have our boss think we’re awesome. And feedback implies that we still have some work to do. It puts a ding in our self-worth and ego.
Yet we must embrace feedback if we are to get better. As weird as it may sound, receiving feedback is a skill to acquire – how to silence oneself to extract potential learning from a feedback provider is crucial.
To discover some benefits, watch this 5-minute long video.
Receiving Feedback Process
There are many processes out there. Here is a simple one which serves you very well.
0. Say when it’s OK to receive
2. Ask for Clarification
3. Thank the provider
4. Then leave…
Remember, feedback is a piece of information for you to think about. It’s still your choice to decide whether to change or not.
When done in the right way and with the right intentions, feedback communication is the avenue to performance greatness. Your colleagues, and yourself, have to know what they are doing well and not so well. For them to really hear your thoughts and suggestions on ways to improve, though, that feedback has to be delivered carefully and frequently.
To be effective, feedback should be treated as a gift, wrapped-up properly for the person to accept receiving it.
Giving feedback effectively is a skill. And like all skills, it takes practice to build your confidence and improve.
Giving Feedback Process
Like when receiving feedback, here is an easy to remember process on how to give feedback.
0. Ask when it’s OK to give
1. Specify the Situation
2. Describe the behaviour (actions and facts)
3. Explain how the behaviour impactedyou
4. Offer a suggestion for improvement
How good is your wrapping?
Please fill in the feedback quiz linked below, evaluate the 15 statements and report the number here. Do not forget to read the score interpretation.*
Here is a list of some of the best employee feedback and culture tools. Check them out to see which one might help you make improvements in your own firm.
– 15Five: http://www.15five.com/
Employees take 15 minutes to answer a survey from their managers, and managers need five minutes to review: That’s the basic idea behind the platform.
– Culture Amp: https://www.cultureamp.com/
Culture Amp provides tools to run performance reviews and pulse and culture surveys, and managers can review data based on the life cycle stage of their employees – from candidates to on-boarding to exit – or by demographics or time frame.
– Impraise: http://www.impraise.com/
This is a full-featured employee review, feedback, and peer praise platform.
– TinyPulse: https://www.tinypulse.com/
TinyPulse makes it easy to create staff pulse surveys so that you know exactly how engaged and happy your team members are.
Providing feedback and receiving feedback are an important skills to have. They have in common to focus on what has already occurred.
What if we could add an expansive, dynamic and future oriented process for personal group development?
Feedforward provides information, images, suggestions, etc. exclusively about what one could do right in the future.
How to make it work?
In this activity, participants are each asked to play two roles. In one role, they are asked to provide feedforward — that is, to give someone else suggestions for the future and help as much as they can. In the second role, they are asked to accept feedforward—that is, to listen to the suggestions for the future and learn as much as they can.
– Pick one behaviour that they would like to change.
– Describe this behaviour to randomly selected fellow participants.
– Ask for feedforward—for two suggestions for the future that might help them achieve a positive change in their selected behaviour.
– Listen attentively to the suggestions and take notes.
– Thank the other participants for their suggestions.
– Ask the other persons what they would like to change.
– Provide feedforward – two suggestions aimed at helping the other person change.
– Say, “You are welcome.” when thanked for the suggestions.
– Find another participant and keep repeating the process until the exercise is stopped.
Communicate for Performance
Where do you spend a majority (or at least a good chunk) of your time? Work. And do you feel valued or appreciated for all of the work you do? If you’re like nearly half of employees out there, there’s a good chance the answer is “no.”
There is a clear correlation between feeling valued/appreciated, willing to grow/develop and a desire to perform well and remain actively engaged with an employer or with colleagues.
If your organisation fail to recognise and act upon these desires, its ability to recruit and retain the best people will prove more and more difficult as a new generation takes over the workforce.
It is in that context that feedback, feedforward, along with all effective communication elements discussed throughout this sub-module take their full measure for successful personal and organisational development.