How to give and receive feedback — it’s not as easy as you think

The dreaded 360 degree review — it’s the one time of year many of you get feedback from your leaders. But maybe that’s the problem?

“It shouldn’t be a once or twice a year event,” said Tom Fox, “you need to give feedback in real time so that employees can actually alter their behavior.”

Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that as a leader, “you have failed if the employee is totally taken by surprise by the content of the feedback.”

But giving feedback isn’t easy, “it is really hard to sit across the table from a person and stand in judgement. It is really easy when you are sitting at home on your couch judging the contestants on American Idol, but it’s a whole other story when you have to work with the people you are judging every day,” said Fox.

Tips for Effective Feedback

  • You need to give constant feedback — not once or twice a year — doesn’t always have to be a formal conversation
  • Each person is different so you should handle the feedback differently — there is no cookie cutter feedback form
  • Stick to the facts, don’t try to play the good cop or bad cop role
  • Look at the record of the employee, not just one incident
  • Make sure you are prepared, come with ideas to improve the situation
  • Make sure the conversation is a dialogue not a monologue
  • Ask for input on your leadership — upward feedback

When feedback sessions go bad: “The key is to keep your composure,” said Fox, “if you respond in kind it will get worse, you need to allow them to respond with emotion, but you need to stay calm.”

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