Article: Does feedback do more damage than good?


Does feedback do more damage than good?

Managers who offer regular feedback have a big impact on their staff members. But does feedback do more harm than good?
Does feedback do more damage than good?

In order to succeed in your professional endeavors, it is imperative to solicit feedback, and research has repeatedly demonstrated its enormous usefulness. According to Gallup, managers who offer regular feedback have a big impact on their staff members' engagement and motivation at work. Receivers of such feedback are 2.7 times more likely to be engaged in their job and 3.2 times more likely to be highly driven to excel at their tasks.

Creating a feedback culture within your workplace is not just crucial for individual professional growth; it also drives positive organisational and financial outcomes. At the heart of fostering a feedback culture is psychological safety. In such an environment, employees have access to open dialogue, constructive criticism, and recognition of achievements. Feedback becomes a norm, deeply ingrained in the culture's DNA.

Despite the evident benefits, research reveals a significant gap in the feedback process. While approximately 87% of employees express a desire for development in their jobs, only a third report actually receiving the feedback necessary for engagement and improvement.

Feedback, whether you are giving or receiving it, can be uncomfortable. A study even found that both the giver and receiver of feedback experience heightened stress levels during spontaneous feedback scenarios. However, it is crucial for self-awareness and personal and professional growth.

While much emphasis is placed on providing feedback in the workplace, the often-underestimated skill is in receiving it effectively. The power lies in the receiver's ability to process and integrate the information for greater effectiveness.

To proactively normalize feedback in your workplace, consider asking colleagues for specific feedback. Instead of vague inquiries like, "How am I doing?" ask about something explicit, such as, "Could you please provide feedback on my sales pitch?" or, "Should I have been more vocal in yesterday's meeting?"

The Harvard Business Review offers some actionable steps for requesting feedback:

  • Clearly express your desire for honest feedback, emphasizing its role in your growth.
  • Shift the focus from past mistakes to future improvement.
  • Be specific about the areas or situations where you seek feedback.
  • Maintain a listening stance rather than a judgmental one to encourage honesty.

The act of requesting feedback holds significant power. It allows you to maintain control of the conversation, ensuring it aligns with your goals and areas of interest. It also eases the giver's uncertainty, as they know the direction of their feedback.

There are various types of feedback, each serving distinct purposes:

  • Appreciation, guidance, and encouragement feedback: Motivational and recognition-based, this type of feedback encourages individuals and recognizes their efforts.
  • Informal and formal feedback: Spontaneous comments provide immediate insights, while formal feedback happens during structured reviews.
  • Forward feedback: Addresses issues and provides specific context for improvement.
  • Negative feedback: While valuable, it can be damaging if not communicated effectively.

However, the effectiveness of feedback largely depends on how you frame your questions. Instead of broad inquiries like, "Can you give me feedback on this project?" try asking, "Can you show me how I could improve this specific section?" Precise questions make feedback more relevant and less threatening.

There are five key reasons why seeking feedback is essential for personal and professional growth:

  • Accountability: Feedback keeps you on track and accountable for your work, fostering self-awareness and responsibility.
  • Error prevention: It helps identify and rectify mistakes early on.
  • Motivation: Seeking feedback motivates you to continually improve and appreciate your efforts.
  • Overcoming creative blocks: Feedback provides fresh ideas and perspectives, especially when facing challenges.
  • Conquering irrational fears: Asking for feedback is the first step in overcoming the fear of receiving it.

Moreover, asking for feedback is a sign of caring about your job, and demonstrating a willingness to learn and grow. It saves time by ensuring you're aligned with your company's vision and fosters collaboration and teamwork, essential for any organisation's success.

Feedback is a powerful tool for professional growth and success. It promotes self-awareness, helps you learn from mistakes, motivates you, and sparks creativity. By adopting a growth mindset, staying open, and separating your identity from your performance, you can maximize the benefits of feedback in your career journey. Remember, there is no failure, only feedback.

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Topics: Culture, HR Consulting, Life @ Work

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