Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

Over the two decades in the many leadership roles, giving/writing feedback was one of the most arduous of all jobs — across dozens of roles, organizations, countries, and cultures. If you are a manager or a team leader — you are solely responsible for the feedback you are giving your team, both on content and method.

So, what is the secret of giving/ writing feedback?
Feedback giving/ writing is both an art and a science. It is an extremely critical component of team building and as much as it is for developing one’s own career. I have condensed the feedback process into six points that can work in any situation. Good feedback will help your team be high on energy and ideas, become awesome in execution and develop a great attitude.

The secret sauce, ironically, is not about the receiver of the feedback. It is about asking yourself (feedback giver) these six vital questions.

  1. Am I being specific?
    It is extremely critical to be as specific as you can be. It is easy to get carried away with analogies and incidents related to the point being discussed. Such meandering, however well-intentioned it may be, often leads to dilution of the message. It may even lead to a defensive mindset being triggered for the receiver. State facts and give examples in support of the feedback being given. Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Am I showing the way to grow and develop this person?
    Your job as a reviewer is to develop and grow people. Pointing to shortcomings does not help in any case. In fact, it would work counter-productive as the receiver pulls up the defences and closes their mind to any suggestions.
  3. Can this person really do something about this?
    Think before if this person can do something about this or if you can help to change this behaviour? If the answer is no, that specific feedback is best left unsaid. Yes, think about it. What is the purpose of feedback on which the person cannot act?
  4. Will this add value to this person?
    Focus your feedback on its value for the receiver. If your feedback will not add value to the receiver in the current state, resist from even saying it. Often, it is for us to offer some advice because it is dear to us and (however well-intentioned) do not think of the value it would add to the other person.
  5. Does this represent facts?
    Write feedback promptly when the incident is fresh in your mind. Do not let other unrelated incidents influence your feedback. Good managers maintain a small notepad, to jot down incidents when they occur. This small notepad is worth terabytes of data that may be residing in our memory. Maintaining and referring that small notepad, will always bring us back to the facts at hand.
  6. Finally, let silence do the heavy lifting.
    Silence is an extremely powerful tool. Any good negotiator would tell you that people tend to underestimate the power of silence when it comes to sales and social dynamics in general. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words” they would vouch. Silence during feedback not only defines alpha roles but also build the readiness to assimilate, process and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognise the five signs that indicate silence is needed
  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolizing airtime

With these six simple steps, you will see your self a lot more effective and sought after by your team and people Try it out!

This article first appeared on the Times of India Blogs on March 22, 2019.

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Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.