How to Get Better at the Art of Feedback (Including Tips)

Giving and receiving feedback can be uncomfortable, but avoiding it causes performance, morale, and retention challenges. Without feedback, employees may persist with ineffective habits, lack avenues to share innovative solutions, or feel their managers aren’t invested in their success.

Effective feedback is much more than critiques and praise. It involves recognizing the potential in others and guiding them toward achieving their best. Effective feedback paves the way for success, whether you’re a leader or a team member.

And as a leader, that should be the goal of feedback: helping your people grow!

Here’s a look at the benefits of giving feedback and tips to master it!

Why Master the Art of Feedback

Feedback can be a robust tool for personal and professional growth when delivered effectively.

Some of the positive impacts of artful feedback include:

  • It encourages improvement. Regular feedback helps team members refine their skills and knowledge, leading to better performance and outcomes.
  • It fosters trust and open communication. When feedback is given with the best interests and success of the person in mind, constructive feedback builds trust. When you address shortcomings in a supportive way, you open a communication channel. You can discover skill or information gaps that can help transform the team.
  • It drives engagement.
  • It can increase accountability.
  • It supports well-informed decisions.
  • It helps align the team and make it more cohesive.
  • It can be a vital component of a successful reward and recognition program.

Because empathy is an integral part of delivering feedback, here is a look at how to receive feedback well.

Related: Here Are 17 Ways to Give Employee Feedback

Tips for Receiving Feedback

The art of feedback includes being open to hearing from others. When you put yourself in the shoes of someone receiving feedback, it can be easier to understand how to deliver it well.

Here are a few things to practice when receiving feedback.

  • Listen: When someone gives you feedback, you may feel the urge to defend, explain yourself, shut down, or turn away. However, the best thing you can do is hear the person out. Listen carefully, because they may not be saying what you assume they will.
  • Keep your body language relaxed and attentive: If you turn away from the person, pick up your phone, cross your arms, glare, or put up barriers in other ways, the other person will notice. By listening attentively and giving them the space to deliver their feedback, you clear a pathway to resolve any confusion or share your perspective once they are done.
  • Make sure you can understand the message: Feedback can be hard to hear. It can also be difficult to communicate well. Ask questions before acting on the input or responding to ensure you understand the feedback. Active listening is an excellent tool. Part of active listening is repeating critical parts of the message back to the speaker, which invites them to either confirm or clarify what they are telling you.
  • Reflect and assess: Some feedback will be very valuable, but not all of it is! Reflect and analyze the consequences of following or disregarding the input before you decide what to do. Self-evaluations are an important to to help you assess and come up with an action plan!

How to Give Effective Feedback

Mastering the art of feedback includes prioritizing your ideas. Before you deliver feedback, think about how you would respond if someone shared this information with you. Is it something actionable and helpful you could use, or would it be overwhelming and critical?

Here’s how to deliver feedback effectively.

Use the Situation-Behavior-Impact Model

Construct your feedback to describe the specific situation, offer observable and neutral descriptions of the behavior, and share how the behavior impacted others.

For example:

Yesterday, during the presentation, I noticed you were talking with only one of the client’s team even though three were standing there. The other two appeared frustrated that you were not addressing them or answering their questions.

Deliver Feedback Privately

You want to avoid embarrassing or shaming people with public feedback or polarizing the group as they take sides in response to what was said.

Be Timely

The ideal time for feedback is about 24 hours after the situation. This gives both of you enough distance to facilitate a calm and proactive conversation, but the situation is still fresh in both of your minds.

If you give feedback immediately before you think it through, you’re more likely to have emotion in your tone or body language. If you sit on it long, it can feel like you have been holding back a negative opinion.

Focus on What Can Change

Constructive feedback will always have an actionable component. For example, telling someone, “You are terrible at giving presentations,” is not feedback. It’s a criticism.

Constructive feedback would be more like the following:

Yesterday, I noticed you spoke very quickly, and there was a lot of text on your slides. I could see the audience was having trouble absorbing the information. If you slow down and simplify each slide you will have more impact.

Be Specific and Choose Your Point

Since the goal of artful feedback is to open communication and help the person improve, it’s best to stick to one or two points, be specific, and include examples. The more grounded and focused you are in your feedback, the easier it is for the person to adopt and integrate the new information.

Related: 10 Leadership Behaviors to Be a Better Boss

Artful Feedback Is Win-Win

Each team member brings their unique background, skills, and insights to the mix. Establishing a strong culture that encourages constructive feedback means everyone is learning from each other, making the individuals and company stronger.

At Insight Global, we understand the impact of company culture. Our culture shapes everything we do, including our commitment to helping our clients forge effective teams and a solid company culture.

Whether you’re looking for one team member with specialized skills or need to build a new department from the ground up, we can help.