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Feedback has become a key element for today’s managers. 

This short guide will help you develop this practice and understand its nuances.

In this article, we will discuss the following points:

1. Feedback benefits

2. Mistakes to avoid

3. feedback techniques

4. Why is it difficult to deploy feedback in companies?

Feedback’s immediate benefits

Feedback is a technique that provides more direct communication with your employee and colleagues. It allows the receiving person to be aware of his or her progress margins and to develop gradually. To be beneficial, feedback must be frequent, structured, assertive and multi-directional. 

Frequent: The more frequent the feedback, the more your employees will get used to a constructive and efficient approach 

Structured: it is important to be able to give clear and understandable feedback. See the feedback matrix below.

Assertive: being assertive in giving feedback allows you to express your ideas clearly without being aggressive and above all not to be left with unsaid things.

Multi directional: Feedback is not a top-down technique dedicated to the manager. It can be done between colleagues, between an employee and his/her manager and vice versa, and of course, between managers.

Feedback has two dimensions. 

  • The human dimension: The person receiving feedback feels respected and recognized. This recognition has a positive influence on their motivation and so on their performance. 
  • The managerial dimension: Feedback is also a development tool. People learn and progress over time. The absence of frequent feedback often creates an excess of autonomy. Frequent feedback guides the employee, reassures them of the direction they are taking and makes organizations more efficient.

Mistakes to avoid when giving feedback

There are two main types of feedback 

Absolute feedback: whether positive or negative, it is often the quickest to give and carries risks, from misunderstanding to demotivation.

Factual feedback: it is precise and based on facts that cannot be discussed. Whether it is positive or negative, it really helps to establish a dialogue and to obtain the acceptance of the person receiving it.

The 3 feedback techniques

Depending on the situation, you can use different types of feedback:

1. Factual and positive feedback: this is the most enriching for the person receiving it. It can be given on a skill as well as on a behavior

2. Factual & Constructive Feedback: This is an assertive and constructive analysis of facts or behavior. This type of feedback is sensitive and must always be precise without being too personal, as this could lead to judgment and make the exchange more confrontational.

Example: Your employee didn’t come to team meetings for 3 weeks.

>Facts: “I noticed that you have been missing the last 3 team meetings”.

>Listen: “What do you think? This may be followed by a more evasive than real answer or a direct answer about the irrelevance of this meeting.

>Give your feelings: “I am annoyed because it is a privileged moment for the whole team during which we can exchange on the difficulties of each one and your participation is generally active and useful especially for the newcomers. “.

>Development focus: “In your opinion, what should be changed during this meeting so that it can benefit everyone? “. It is a question of reengaging the employee.

>Collaborative and support aspects: “I suggest that we all talk about this together at the next meeting and discuss the improvements you mentioned. Can I count on you?”. Your collaborator understands that his or her presence is as important as that of others and that you expect the same commitment from him or her. You will have a better chance of initiating a positive process instead of simply correcting him/her and risking his/her disengagement.

3. Feedforward: a technique that derives from coaching, it allows the employee to look forward and less backward.

This technique is much simpler and finally reassures managers of the expected effect. 

We focus on what is already positive, and then on the precise points of improvement. 

This allows the person to better understand what is expected of him/her and to develop with confidence.

Example: “I really liked your presentation to the audience this morning. Your slides were precise and not overloaded with information. As a result, you were able to get the audience to focus on your presentation and they listened to you. 

Some people missed the agenda for your meeting and were expecting a recommendation rather than a workshop. So, I suggest that you prepare an agenda for future meetings, specifying the outcomes you want to achieve. Then you will have even more engaged people in your meetings. 

Why is this technique difficult to deploy in companies?

Culturally, feedback is still too often perceived as criticism of a past action. Nevertheless, everyone who works in an environment where feedback is frequently used, says the same thing.  “You feel you are being listened to and you progress faster.” 

On the other hand, managers who don’t use praise often enough are concerned that it will be taken as the first step toward a pay raise.

As for corrective feedback, managers may fear that it will be perceived as an opportunity for conflict

Some tips to remember

  • Use neutral, non-judgmental words. 
  • Use AND rather than BUT.
  • Use I rather than WE, which is too impersonal and can be taken as non-courageous accusations.
  • Good feedback should be frequent. Don’t try to recall things that happened days before. It must be done in the moment. 
  • The feedback culture is constructive and assertive. Never try to give feedback that is calculated and can be taken as a manipulation.

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