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How to Give, Receive and Ask for Feedback

How to Give, Receive and Ask for Feedback


Feedback plays a pivotal role in building high-performing teams and organisations. Dr Andrzej Grossman highlights the significance of feedback in driving innovation, managing behaviour, and fostering professional growth. By overcoming fears and embracing feedback as an opportunity for improvement, we can cultivate stronger teams and unlock our full potential. Let’s prioritise effective feedback practices to enhance collaboration, development, and overall team performance.

Feedback is an essential component of a high-performing team and organisation.

However, whether informally, over a coffee following a team meeting, or formally, as part of an annual development review, people lack the confidence and skillset to give, receive and ask for feedback effectively.

Why Is Feedback So Important

Providing and receiving feedback is a core business skill.

It is how you work through and develop new ideas, address challenging or inappropriate behaviour, outline areas for professional development, manage expectations and deliver difficult messages.

While it is an important part of a formal and annual or bi-annual appraisal or performance review, people should be able and empowered to give feedback to peers and managers alike on an on-going basis.

If people are unable to give effective feedback individual and team performance will suffer.

Issues which should have been addressed and resolved early can be left to linger and fester, manifesting in something much more destructive and costly down the line.

Furthermore, people’s opportunities to develop professional and personally are hindered as improved performance is based on assessing, reviewing and communicating around existing capabilities our output.

What’s more, when it comes to building trust, this depends on people being genuine and honest with each other as opposed to blanketly agreeing with ideas or ignoring difficult behaviour.

Why People Struggle with Feedback

Put simply, feedback is a conversation about the impact of someone’s actions and behaviours.

However, many fear the idea and process of giving feedback, formally and informally.

The annual development review is seen not only as an administrative formality and necessary evil but for both the reviewer and reviewee, it can be a source of anxiety and even conflict.

For managers, it is usually the fear of perceived conflict that lies at the heart of reluctance to give meaningful feedback.

For those receiving feedback, it may like judgement day where your manager will pass judgement on you and your performance. Equally, you may have suffered from the effect of the ‘positive-negative-positive’ feedback sandwich which has felt disingenuous and not to be trusted.

The same fears can be found with informal, on-going feedback. The conflict avoidance tendency means people shy away from delivering challenging messages for fear of rocking the boat or causing a scene.

So, for both the giver and receiver, when sensing social threat, our logical brain turns to our survival brain to zoom in on the threat and switch to a fight or flight response.

Even the word “feedback” doesn’t sound very appetising and can have negative connotations and trigger a standoffish reaction.

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