Are You Giving Good Feedback?

We’ve all been in this situation—you’re called into your manager’s office for a conversation on your performance. They may skirt around some issues you’re having and offer half sincere recommendations on how you can improve. You’ll likely leave the office with more questions than answers and a little concerned about the feedback you just got. While many managers and employees are unsure of how to give and receive good feedback, the good news is that doing so is a relatively easy skill to learn.

So how exactly does an employee learn to give and receive good feedback? GovLoop sat down with Carolyn Mooney, Owner and Coach at Enough, LLC in the recent online training, “How to Give and Receive Feedback,” to learn how your agency can get the most out of feedback.

According to Mooney, feedback is simply, “information about a reaction to a product or a person’s performance on a task and should be used as a basis for improvement.” Essentially, feedback is providing a person with information they need to make themselves better. Mooney explained that there are three types of feedback: telling, training, and advising or mentoring.

  • Telling: Telling feedback is when someone shares information with someone that the person receiving the information did not know before. An example of telling feedback would be explaining to a new employee what the company’s policy is or a new way of doing things moving forward. Telling feedback is inherently not related to someone’s direct performance.
  • Training: The purpose of training feedback is to impart knowledge on someone who does not have that particular knowledge. According to Mooney, a training environment is the best way to give feedback because feedback is a crucial and expected part of learning. Training feedback becomes tricky when an individual feels like they have mastered a topic so they feel as if their skills or knowledge are being questioned when someone tries to provide feedback to them on that topic.
  • Advising and Mentoring: Feedback in an advising and mentoring relationship is a critical part of management. “In order to guide employees up in the organization, managers must provide consistent and frequent feedback to their employees,” Mooney emphasized.

Unfortunately, sentiments surrounding feedback are often negative. Mooney attributes this to managers and employees’ weaknesses in giving and receiving feedback. In order to counter this, feedback givers must always impart feedback based on one of the above three categories. Additionally, there must be a positive environment that embodies trust, respect, and safety for feedback to be positively given and received

  • Trust: Mooney emphasized that there has to be mutual trust between the giver and receiver of feedback. Without trust, those involved with feedback may wonder what ulterior motives the other individual has, diminishing the value of the feedback. Additionally, trust is not static. Managers and employees must continually grow and foster trust in order to give and receive the most valuable feedback.
  • Respect: Lack of respect in feedback often appears when an employee receives feedback from someone who doesn’t know anything about their job. In order to promote respect between managers and employees, both parties must be attentive to what the other does. Mooney suggests managers engage with their workforce more frequently in order to better understand what they do and what kind of feedback they need to receive.
  • Safety: Mooney underscored, “an office environment should be an environment where ideas, thoughts, and feelings can be shared without negative repercussions.” Creating a safe environment in the workplace fosters a culture of trust and collaboration allowing employees to feel vulnerable and open to feedback.

While setting up the conditions to give or receive valuable feedback seems daunting, Mooney established a simple, six step procedure to create an environment conducive to feedback.

  1. Engage: Engage up, down, and across the workforce all year long.
  2. Baggage: Know where yourself and your employees are coming from and learn how to unload or work around baggage.
  3. Outline: Have a plan when going into a structured feedback session. No one likes a meeting without an agenda.
  4. Obstacles: As an employer, allow your employees to share with you what their obstacles are. As an employee, don’t be afraid to be up front with what your challenges are and what help you may need moving forward.
  5. Goals: Employees and supervisors both need goals for themselves and for their workforce.
  6. Help: Asking for help is a strength not a weakness. If you are an employee, let your supervisor know what help you may need to achieve your goals. As a supervisor, be prepared to ask your staff how you can help them.

Employing best feedback practices at your agency could be the difference between an empowered and motivated workforce and a begrudged and reluctant one. Mooney underscored that when employees receive good feedback, employee engagement rises, leading to more empowered and motivated employees. Additionally, feedback fosters real connections among coworkers and allows the entire workforce to feel valued. “When you have a feedback plan in place you have a process, path and framework to create a culture of feedback that fosters an overall better work environment,” she concluded.

For more information about the Next Generation of Government training summit, click here.

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Thank you for giving me the chance to get these trainign courses. I am from Mexico, living in Mexico.
As I work in a University as Foreign Languages Coordinator, all of your tips and courses have been useful for me. My work is very similar to a public servant because to be a Coordinator in a school is a “customer service work” where our “customers”, the students, must follow the rules and we must help them to do it easier and happilly.
On the other hand we receive complaints, follow up them and give feed back.
Also, we must be tolerant and pacient, the same like you are.

Thanks again, KIND REGARDS.