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What is feedback?
It is a response or reaction to a particular process or message.
Why must we seek feedback?
No one is perfect. We all have our flaws and weaknesses that, most of the time, can only be pointed out by others around us. If we can seek feedback before others tell us, it would allow an accelerated self-improvement process that would only further develop ourselves personally and professionally.
However, why do we usually not seek feedback?
Pride! Pride! Pride! This is the one thing that keeps us from asking for feedback or advice. Pride is a double-edged sword. It can inhibit us if it does not allow us to improve ourselves by exposing our blindspots. This is more pertinent when we operate in an intact team, where the habitual blindspots of each team member may jeopardise relationships in the long run.
Then why should we give feedback?
As one practices seeking feedback, one should also practice giving feedback. This perpetual cycle reinforces relationships and strengthens them for long- term rewards and mutual benefits.
THE 3 “Cs” OF GIVING FEEDBACK
Clear Constructive Caring
THE 1ST C: CLEAR
Have you ever received feedback from a person who kept beating around the bush? How did it feel? When feedback is given, remember to always be clear about your opinion about something another person did or did not do. Sometimes we tend not to address the issue directly because we are afraid of hurting the feelings of the other person.
However, if we can practice being clear on the issue-at-hand and the positive intent of the given feedback, we can help eliminate doubts and misunderstandings between team members. A lack of feedback clarity would lead to unnecessary assumptions that would only result in miscommunication and even unwanted conflicts.
An example of unclear feedback:
“Hey John, you know about that client that you have just met? I overheard your sales pitch that you delivered to him earlier. It was…well….not really persuasive. It was lacking in some areas. Some of the words that you have used were not that appropriate. Some of your responses to the client’s questions were not clear. Maybe you could use more appropriate sales techniques when you are pitching to your client.”
An example of clear feedback:
“Hey John, I have a couple of feedback pointers about the sales pitch that you just made to your client. Firstly, you can try not to use words that imply a lack of confidence, such as “I think I can” or “I may not be able to meet your needs”. Secondly, you can try to use business jargon that relates specifically to your client, such as “trade discount” or “credit terms”. Lastly, try also to be conscious of your tone of your voice when speaking to a client. Remember to speak in a cordial and friendly manner whenever you are making a sales pitch.”
THE 2ND C : CONSTRUCTIVE
One must also take note that feedback should not be given for the sake of giving it. Any form of feedback should be constructive and has the intent to improve another person’s behaviour or work. An opportunity for feedback is not one for criticising or verbally attacking another person. We must realise that we must not harbour malicious intent and not find faults in others for the sake of finding faults.
An example of unconstructive feedback:
“John! You are an idiot! After receiving this sales report from you and looking through it, I am more or less convinced that you are useless! The report was riddled with grammatical and numerical errors! And you said that you were one of the top sales agents in your previous company. I seriously doubt it!”
An example of constructive feedback:
“Hi John, you’ve a minute to spare? I would like to talk to you about the sales report that you have just submitted to me. There were several errors in the report, such as the matching of your clients to their individual sales numbers, and a couple of grammatical errors. I understand that you are new here but please do take note of the accuracy and consistency of your future sales reports, so that it would be easier for me to calculate your monthly sales commissions and also in line with the company’s policies. Can you please correct these errors first then re-submit the report to me?”
THE 3RD C: CARING
Besides from the words that we use when giving feedback, one must also be conscious of the way we say those words. The tone of our voice makes a huge difference between giving feedback and “rebuking” another person. You might also wish to give your team member feedback in private so as not to embarrass the recipient of your feedback.
Always keep your cool and stay calm when giving feedback, ensuring also that the recipient of your feedback is in the right frame of mind. You do not want to give feedback to someone if he or she is visibly stressed or frustrated about something else. An argument might ensue. In fact, sometimes some of us tend to antagonise our colleagues even more when we try to resolve a problem while emotions are still tense. Do show some care and concern.
An example of uncaring feedback:
(In front of the whole sales team)
“JOHN! THIS IS RIDICULOUS! WHY DID YOU SELL THIS PRODUCT TO THE CLIENT AT SUCH A BIG DISCOUNT?!!! DO YOU THINK THIS COMPANY IS A CHARITY ORGANISATION?! YOU ARE USELESS BEYOND WORDS! I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HIRED YOU!”
An example of caring feedback:
“Hey John, can I talk to you in private? I have just found out that you have sold our product to your client at an additional 20% discount. Is this true? You know, John, you have a knack for sales and I understand that you want to close this deal as soon as possible. However, with regards to trade discounts, we still have to follow strict company policies regarding client management. Why don’t you give your client a call to negotiate further because such a huge discount would reduce our profit margin significantly? You don’t have to worry about this client. He is regular customer of ours. C’mon…maybe we can do this together.”
THE 3 “G”s OF RECEIVING FEEDBACK:
Glad Grateful Gracious
THE 1ST G: GLAD
Be happy that your partner or team member is taking some time off to offer some advice or feedback, which may help you to improve professionally or as a person. Smile if you can to show that you welcome his or her feedback. However, by laughing at the feedback giver would only suggest that you do not take his or her words seriously.
THE 2ND G: GRATEFUL
When feedback is given to you, say, “Thank you, I will try to improve on this.” However, you can also justify your actions or inactions of the issue-at-hand after thanking your partner or feedback giver, in a non-confrontational manner. Seek understanding from that person about your mistakes but do be grateful for his or her comments.
THE 3RD G: GRACIOUS
Do not allow emotions to overwhelm you when feedback is being given. When somebody is providing feedback to you, do not react angrily. Do not assume that the person is being vindictive and initiate an argument. Making baseless assumptions at an instance would only result in the undesirable exchange of hurtful words. Remember to be gracious and accept the given feedback as a gentleman or lady.
Article by Andy Pan, the Director of Training at Right Impact Training