The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

Do you wonder if you’re giving your employees feedback that can help them excel at their jobs — and feel more included? Chances are, we could all improve at giving feedback at work. In fact, one survey found that 64 percent of employees wanted their supervisor to check in with them at least every two weeks.

This desire for frequent, steady feedback has even been tied to the demise of the annual review. Who wants to look in the rearview mirror at what they did months ago when they could be improving today?

The articles below address the reality that not everyone appreciates feedback (ahem: criticism!) but there are ways you can make feedback at work more palatable — whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.

Share Positive Feedback in a Group to Extend its Power

“It’s probably not breaking news to most people that “one-on-one” was overwhelmingly considered the most effective way to give feedback. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best. It’s important to match the right kind of feedback to the situation. For example, if an employee does an exemplary job on a big project, it may be more effective to give them feedback publicly, in front of their peers. … A few encouraging words of recognition for a job well done in front of peers can go a long way toward ensuring your employees feel their work is valued, which helps keep them engaged.” — Read more at Refresh Leadership.

Forget The Positive/Negative/Positive Structure: Here’s Why

“It’s easier for our brains to process and remember specifics than to handle conceptual ideas. Research has found that we remember concrete words like ‘chair’ better than abstract words like ‘comfort.’ As a result, if we hear a generic positive statement (‘It’s great! You’re great!’) followed by a list of specific things we should change, our brains will quickly discount that quick splash of praise and focus entirely on the negatives.” — Read more at Fast Company.

Receiving Negative Feedback at Work? Take Ownership

“If your boss remarks that you’ve regularly missed deadlines and have disrupted the workflow of others as a result, that’s something you need to own up to. And you need to make efforts to turn it around. … You might say, ‘Thank you for pointing this out. I’m aware that I’ve been behind schedule turning some things in, and I know it’s something I need to work on. Starting ASAP, I’m going to take a look at my calendar and to-do list and find a way to prioritize needs so that I don’t miss another deadline. And, if for some reason, I find I’m going to be late with something, I’ll communicate that as early as possible.’” — Read more at The Muse.

Sort out the Helpful Feedback So You Can Act On It

“If others criticize your ideas or performance, focus on the more relevant comments to narrow the criticism down. This will make it easier to address, and the conversation moves from what you did wrong to what you can do right.” — Read more at Fortune.

Even As a Supervisor, Sometimes You’re On the Receiving End

“For managers who want to avoid these pitfalls and foster a speaking up culture, the research suggests several takeaways. One important one is to actively embrace constructive conflict. Rather than waiting for employees to speak up – thus risking their own professional reputations – start a debate. A structured debate can force multiple perspectives out into the open. Another is to regulate your emotions. Whenever you feel threatened by something an employee says, think about whether you want to escalate a potential conflict further before you react. Don’t shy away from stating — in a direct and constructive way – your own point of view. But don’t let negative emotions come pouring out.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.

How have you improved at giving or receiving feedback at work? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

4 Responses to “The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work”

  1. Celeste Stewart

    Hi Lindsey

    I was doing follow up meeting with grads recently and one grad in particular become very emotional because I told her the business was VERY happy with her performance. On digging deeper, I found she battled with processing positive feedback and also acknowledging her strengths.

    I don’t think she is alone in this regard. Many young people, in fact people, almost become suspicious when they’re giving positive feedback. I guess my insight from the engagement with her is that both positive and negative feedback can be challenging to process and is a discipline that must developed over time.

    Thanks for a great article!

    Reply
  2. Emily

    Hi Lindsey! Loved reading your post. At BULLIT, we think we have the right tool to put your advice into action. Can I send you more information?

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