Giving feedback is an art, a craft and a skill. However, the giving and receiving of feedback have been institutionalized to such an extent, that employees and managers the world over dread the ritual – and see it as just that: a ritual that has to be got out the way. Most often, managers save up comments and document all the things they note about a person's performance. And then, like a big cat ready to pounce, the manager brings a hapless employee into the office and springs a year's worth of "constructive criticism" onto him or her. No doubt the process is seen as unnerving and fear provoking. Done in the right way and with the right intentions, feedback communication is the avenue to performance greatness. Employees have to know what they are doing well and not so well. For them to really hear your thoughts and suggestions on ways to improve, though, that feedback has to be delivered carefully and frequently. A simple and effective model to follow is the BOOST model.
Feedback should be constructive and highlight good aspects of performance and behaviour as well as the areas that need improvement. A recommended technique to use is to start from employee’s self-analysis before providing any opinion, therefore the best question to start with would be: “What you think is going well and what you think would need improvement?” This leads to the individual taking ownership of the feedback and can lead to a healthy discussion about performance.
Feedback should be independent of who is giving the feedback. This can be achieved by basing everything on facts. It’s important to avoid judgemental and generic statements. For example, instead of saying “You are always late for meetings”, try “You have been more than 15 minutes late for our last three weekly team meetings”.
The most powerful feedback is based on actions and activities personally observed i.e. “I heard you say….” or “I saw you…” Although you can include opinions from other colleagues it is alwas the best to use your own observations.
Constructive feedback is always specific i.e. “I really liked the way you handled the complaint from …” Feedback such as, “You need to put in more effort” is not specific and is not going to help the individual to improve.
Feedback should be given as close to the event as possible. This helps to ensure that the feedback is accurate and help the individual to act on feedback given. It also ensures that you don’t forget about the incident you want to give feedback on! Feedback is a two way street. You need to know how to give it effectively and at the same time model how to receive it constructively. Done properly, feedback need not be agonizing, demoralizing, or daunting. Well delivered feedback has the potential to make your workplace a much more productive and harmonious place to be.