Why & How to Give Impactful Feedback

Why & How to Give Impactful Feedback

You’d be hard-pressed to find a company or organization that doesn’t self-identify communication as a workplace challenge. While some companies may be better than others at communicating, no one is exempt from the unexpected or consistent communication challenges.

Communication is one of the pillars of a strong foundation for any organization. There is healthy and unhealthy communication.

Feedback is a critical communication tool that supports healthy organizations if done correctly and will assist in getting positive business results.

Oftentimes when I see companies with gaps and broken systems, it’s because of a lack of feedback and effective communication. And there is a healthy and unhealthy way to go about giving impactful feedback. 

Unhealthy feedback can quickly lead to unproductive behaviors and frustrations. Healthy feedback is given honestly and in a supportive and productive manner.

When to Give Feedback

When it comes to feedback, there’s no rule of thumb for when it should occur; apart from that, it needs to be timely, and that it should never be a surprise.

Regardless of the type of feedback, it should occur within 24-48 hours of the event or situation in which you are giving feedback. Waiting three weeks, two months, or even until their annual performance review not only shows the individual that their behavior was acceptable, it’s also showing others it was acceptable as well. 

This goes for all feedback, whether feedback for improvement or acknowledgement of great work. The longer you wait, the less impact it will have.

Why People Don’t Give Feedback

I often hear managers say they don’t have the time to give feedback. Sometimes it’s because they think the person won’t take it well. They also say it’s because it’s uncomfortable or they don’t want to create conflict. 

My advice to all managers and leaders in this mindset is that you don’t have the time not to give feedback. It’s not about being right or wrong; it’s about being authentic, showing your employees you’re in it with them, and figuring out how to move forward in the best possible way.

Not addressing the good and the bad will only keep you where you are currently.

The Good, The Bad, and The Purpose

Feedback is determined based on the emotions we attach to it. At the end of the day, no one can control how someone else will feel receiving feedback, whether they take it as “good” or “bad.” 

Effective leaders are intentional, leading with the “why.” What’s the purpose of this feedback? What is the goal you want to achieve by giving this feedback? And how do you plan to deliver it? These are items you can control to provide impactful feedback.

Understanding employee work styles will also help determine how to give feedback as each style attaches emotions and handles feedback differently. Understanding these will provide you with insight into being more impactful and productive.

How to Give Impactful Feedback

Now that you know the difference between healthy vs. unhealthy feedback, how do you give feedback to make the biggest impact?

  1. Begin with the purpose: Identify why feedback needs to be given. What are the causes and effects of the situation? What is your goal, and what are the behavioral changes you expect from this?
  2. Make it timely: The faster you are to address and give feedback, the more impact you’ll have. 
  3. Keep it private: This is between you and that individual. Feedback should never be given in front of a group or other peers, regardless of the negative or positive aspects it may carry. This shows your respect for the individual and their feelings.
  4. Keep an open mind: You may not know the whole story. There may be legitimate reasons for the need to give feedback. Make sure to listen, engage, and learn so that assumptions aren’t made, and you can figure it out together.

“It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.” – Stephen R. Covey

If you’re finding it difficult to give feedback or finding it isn’t landing when you deliver it, it’s time to connect with me to schedule a free 15-minute health assessment.

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