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Why you need to ask for feedback…and how to use it

Bob Dignen

Giving effective feedback is a vital part of communication, whether inside or outside the boardroom or classroom. Bob Dignen explains why.

Different aspects of communication lay claim to being the most important: listening effectively or building trust, for example. Though these are important, the critical skill for me is feedback, both giving and getting. Effective feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver and the wider organisation. Here are five reasons why feedback is perhaps the most important communication skill.

#1 Feedback is there all the time

Ask people when feedback happens in business and they usually talk about times such as the annual appraisal, or a disciplinary conversation following some kind of wrongdoing. In fact, feedback is around us all the time. Every time we speak or listen to another person, in our tone of voice, in the words we use, in the silences which we allow, we communicate feedback – how far we trust, how much we respect, the degree to which we love, like or even hate the person in front of us. We cannot not give feedback. If we think we’re not doing it, we’re a dangerous communicator because it means we are probably not managing communication effectively.

#2 Feedback is just another word for effective listening

When one human being speaks to another, he or she needs to experience two very fundamental things – they need to know that they have been understood, and they need to feel that what they said had some form of value. Remove either of these aspects, and a speaker can quickly become confused or even irritated. Giving feedback effectively means in one sense simply providing both aspects; for example, showing understanding – ‘I see.’ or ‘OK. I have the same issue.’ – and expressing appreciation – ‘That’s important because …’ or ‘That’s very interesting because …’.

#3 Feedback is an opportunity to motivate

Positive feedback is another word for praise, and is all about taking the opportunity to express appreciation of a job well done, in the hope of inspiring an individual to do many more jobs even better. Too few leaders, managers and colleagues find time to express thanks to others for something well done, missing the opportunity to inspire greater positive feeling and commitment in those already performing well.

#4 Feedback is essential to develop performance

For many, feedback is something akin to criticism or attack. Perhaps this is why it is seldom practised with any enthusiasm, and certainly anticipated with less. Yet feedback is not criticism, it is a supportive act intended to deal with under-performance in a constructive way and to develop performance to a higher level. The language which we use is important here; not, ‘You didn’t do …’ but rather ‘If you had done xxx, it would have …’ or ‘The customer wasn’t very happy. What else do you think you could have done?’

#5 Feedback is a way to keep learning

Working internationally, which often entails working with high levels of cultural diversity, business complexity and within virtual teams, means we are likely to get things wrong from time to time. We will assume things incorrectly. We will communicate in ways which are confusing and possibly impolite for others. The only way to make sure we don’t continue making the same mistakes is to get feedback. Invest time in asking and learning about how others experience working with you – ‘What do you like about the way I work and what don’t you like?’ You might find it tough to listen to others’ sometimes ill-founded opinions about your behaviour. But it is what it is; an opinion and not a fact. And if people are thinking it, you may not need to accept it, but you need to manage the perception by explaining more about what you do and why you do it the way you do. It takes time, of course, but probably saves time in the long run – with greater mutual understanding comes greater speed to market.

Your business will make more money if your customers are happier. But how do you keep your customers happy? How do you even know what your customers like or dislike about your product?

Ask them.

Asking for customer feedback can provide extremely valuable insight for your business and products. After every one of my company’s events for entrepreneurs, we send out a short survey to the folks who came asking for their feedback on the event. A few days later, we review the feedback, both positive and negative.

This feedback directly influences what changes we make for the next event, what aspects we want to highlight more, and what parts need to stay exactly the same. This feedback is invaluable to us, and it doesn’t cost us anything to get.

Based on the insights we’ve gained through our surveys, here are three reasons you should ask for customer feedback.

  1. Learn what your customers like and don’t like. When you ask your customers to give you feedback on your product and or service, you’re going to learn what they like and don’t like about it. This information is extremely useful. If you know what’s working for your customers and what isn’t, you can tweak things to better serve your customers. For example, we’ve learned consistently that people love the intimate atmosphere at our events. But after one event, we learned that people felt the lobby for networking was too small and uncomfortable. We fixed that by choosing a venue for the next event with a much bigger area for networking, and our attendees liked that.
  2. Make customers feel important and involved. By asking for your customers to provide you with feedback, you’re communicating that you value their opinion, and you care about what they have to say. Your customers feel important because you’re treating them as such and they feel involved in shaping your product.

Are you ready for feedback?

There’s a lot to be gained from getting customer feedback and absolutely nothing to lose. All you have to do is ask!

How has customer feedback helped you build your business?

Courtesy of YEC

Tim Jahn is the co-founder of Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, a website and intimate event series dedicated to discovering and educating entrepreneurs. As a member of the Chicago tech community, Tim Jahn has made his mark interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world. He is also a contributor to Tech Cocktail and Crain’s Chicago Business, and was previously a director of Ignite Chicago.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs 45 and younger. Questions about an…

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

“How am I doin’?” Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch would always ask that question to passersby on New York City streets, parks and subways. He would stop them and query them about his on-the-job performance.

This question is even more relevant and ideal in today’s business world. Why? According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, where I studied applied neuroscience, it’s the brain-friendly way to gather useful, actionable feedback to help you improve. Those of us attending NLI’s annual summit last fall received a preview of the findings. After studying 30 different feedback models and programs and interviewing a number of neuroscientists, psychologists, and business researchers, the NLI research team concluded that traditional feedback programs are broken.

Traditional feedback programs suffer from two big problems.

First, managers and others who are tasked with giving feedback typically don’t do so on a regular basis, even when they’re reminded that employees like feedback. Managers may provide input during their employees’ annual performance reviews – but that’s often too little too late.

Second, when managers do give feedback, they often do so in a way that hurts rather than helps employees and their performance. Managers may focus too much on errors, as in what employees did wrong, rather than what individuals are doing well and should continue doing. As a result, individuals may pay too much attention to lower-priority fixes.

So, turn the tables and ask for feedback.

Here’s how this benefits you as an individual: When you take the initiative to ask for feedback rather than wait to receive it, you take control of the situation. By getting into the driver’s seat, you’re able to:

• Ask for the specific feedback that you need. Rather than asking the broad, “How did I do?” you can focus narrowly on an area where you want help. For example, you could ask, “How clear was the proposed solution I just described in my presentation? Did my analogy resonate with you, or do I need to come up with another one? Did I come across as passionate?”

• Prepare yourself to listen intently to the feedback you’re going to receive. Rather than feeling surprised or ambushed, you can think about as if you were receiving a “gift” — personal feedback that you can use. Compare this with how threatened you feel when someone, especially your manager or another person of higher status, says to you, “Let me give you some feedback.” When your stress level goes up, your ability to listen carefully goes down. When you’re taking charge, you’re more open to hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly and deciding what to do with it.

• Seek out multiple people for feedback, getting a broad range of input. You’re not limited to hearing from those who volunteer their comments or others who feel responsible for helping you develop. Even better, as Mayor Koch did, you can request feedback from people who may be new to you or your subject matter for a different perspective.

• Gather feedback quickly and regularly. Rather than waiting on feedback, you’re able to obtain data for a specific action or situation that you can apply immediately. Frequent, targeted feedback is much more useful than an annual performance feedback meeting in which you might get a combination of generalities that are hard to put into action and specific comments about incidents you don’t even remember.

Asking for feedback allows for mental contrasting.

According to NYU psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, mental contrasting means focusing on your dreams — such as improving your personal performance — while visualizing the obstacles that you may need to overcome. When you receive relevant and actionable feedback, you’re able to do just this, which is what will drive you to improve.

During the process, several brain regions get activated, particularly working memory, episodic memory and vivid imagery. The more you focus, the more you activate these regions, and the more committed you become to act.

To increase the frequency and effectiveness of your mental contrasting, make it a habit to ask for regular feedback. Tell yourself, “After I finish every meeting, I will ask for feedback about what I said or did.” Then, once you nail this habit, you can expand to asking for real-time, valuable feedback in other areas.

You’ll not only have more opportunities to do mental contrasting and improve your performance, but you’ll also gain firsthand experience on the value of brain-friendly feedback.

We are continually receiving and giving feedback. Whether explicit through oral or written language, or implicit in gestures or tone of voice, feedback conveys information about behaviours and offers an evaluation of the quality of those behaviours. While it is easy to take feedback personally, strive to perceive it as a learning opportunity. Feedback can reinforce existing strengths, keep goal-directed behaviour on course, clarify the effects of behaviour, and increase recipients’ abilities to detect and remedy errors on their own. Use the tips below to receive and give feedback effectively.

Receiving feedback effectively

  • Listen to the feedback given. This means not interrupting. Hear the person out, and listen to what they are really saying, not what you assume they will say. You can absorb more information if you are concentrating on listening and understanding rather than being defensive and focusing on your response.
  • Be aware of your responses. Your body language and tone of voice often speak louder than words. Try to avoid putting up barriers. If you look distracted and bored, that sends a negative message as well. Attentiveness, on the other hand, indicates that you value what someone has to say and puts both of you at ease.
  • Be open. This means being receptive to new ideas and different opinions. Often, there is more than one way of doing something and others may have a completely different viewpoint on a given topic. You may learn something worthwhile.
  • Understand the message. Make sure you understand what is being said to you, especially before responding to the feedback. Ask questions for clarification if necessary. Listen actively by repeating key points so that you know you have interpreted the feedback correctly. In a group environment, ask for others’ feedback before responding. As well, when possible, be explicit as to what kind of feedback you are seeking beforehand so you are not taken by surprise.
  • Reflect and decide what to do. Assess the value of the feedback, the consequences of using it or ignoring it, and then decide what to do because of it. Your response is your choice. If you disagree with the feedback, consider asking for a second opinion from someone else.
  • Follow up. There are many ways to follow up on feedback. Sometimes, your follow-up will simply involve implementing the suggestions given to you. In other situations, you might want to set up another meeting to discuss the feedback or to re-submit the revised work.

Giving effective feedback

Prioritize your ideas. Limit your feedback to the most important issues. Consider the feedback’s potential value to the receiver and how you would respond – could you act on the feedback? As well, too much feedback provided at a single time can be overwhelming to the recipient.

  • Concentrate on the behaviour, not the person. One strategy is to open by stating the behaviour in question, then describing how you feel about it, and ending with what you want. This model enables you to avoid sounding accusatory by using “I” and focusing on behaviours, instead of assumed interpretations. Example: “I haven’t seen you in class in for a week. I’m worried that you are missing important information. Can we meet soon to discuss it?”
    Instead of: “You obviously don’t care about this course!”
  • Balance the content. Use the “sandwich approach.” Begin by providing comments on specific strengths. This provides reinforcement and identifies the things the recipient should keep doing. Then identify specific areas of improvement and ways to make changes. Conclude with a positive comment. This model helps to bolster confidence and keep the weak areas in perspective. Example: “Your presentation was great. You made good eye contact, and were well prepared. You were a little hard to hear at the back of the room, but with some practice you can overcome this. Keep up the good work!” Instead of: “You didn’t speak loudly enough. However, the presentation went well.”
  • Be specific. Avoid general comments that may be of limited use to the receiver. Try to include examples to illustrate your statement. As well, offering alternatives rather than just giving advice allows the receiver to decide what to do with your feedback.
  • Be realistic. Feedback should focus on what can be changed. It is useless and frustrating for recipients to get comments on something over which they have no control. Also, remember to avoid using the words “always” and “never.” People’s behaviour is rarely that consistent.
  • Own the feedback. When offering evaluative comments, use the pronoun “I” rather than “they” or “one,” which would imply that your opinion is universally agreed on. Remember that feedback is merely your opinion.
  • Be timely. Seek an appropriate time to communicate your feedback. Being prompt is key since feedback loses its impact if delayed too long. Delayed feedback can also cause feelings of guilt and resentment in the recipient if the opportunity for improvement has passed. As well, if your feedback is primarily negative, take time to prepare what you will say or write.
  • Offer continuing support. Feedback should be a continuous process, not a one-time event. After offering feedback, make a conscious effort to follow up. Let recipients know you are available if they have questions, and, if appropriate, ask for another opportunity to provide more feedback in the future.

Resources

  • Dempsey, J.V. and G.C. Sales (Eds.). (1993) Interactive Instruction and Feedback. Educational Technology Publication. NJ: Englewood Cliffs
  • London, M. (1997) Job Feedback: Giving, Seeking, and Using Feedback for Performance Improvement. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
  • McGill, I. and L. Beaty (1995) Action Learning. 2nd Ed. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Receiving and giving effective feedback . Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo .

Do you find asking for feedback uncomfortable? While it may cause you some initial anxiety, it’s an essential part of professional development. When you actively ask for feedback, you learn more — faster. With some preparation, you can gain useful and contextual information to support your growth.

Asking for feedback effectively is a skill that you can learn. It involves preparing the right questions, identifying the right feedback givers, and having productive conversations.

Prepare the right questions

There are a few common types of question you can ask in order to receive feedback:

1. Open-ended questions

This type of question requires more detailed answers, which you can use when you want to gather additional information, or have a larger discussion around a certain topic. You can ask questions that help you better understand the context of the person’s feedback and the impact your behavior is having.

Here are some of the most insightful open ended questions to ask:

  • What do you think is currently working and not working with my time management?
  • What are specific ways I can better support our team’s mission?
  • Who should I be working with more closely on the team and across the company?
  • Which parts of my working and communication style concern you the most?
  • What steps can I take to prepare for the next project or next role

Open-ended questions are great for seeking coaching advice, you can ask them of anyone in the organization who you aspire to be like or learn from.

2. Yes / No or rating based questions

This allows people to quickly give you a straightforward answer. You can use this type of question to quickly confirm an idea or validate a hunch.

For example: “Have I show improvements in X?” or “Do you think I/we should take this course of action?”

You can use this to evaluate ideas or options, and can also try weighting the answers. For example if 9 out of 10 say yes, the idea is probably worth pursuing. However bear in mind these are closed questions that do not allow much room for interpretation or discussion. It’s probably best to use them only if you are looking for quick input.

Identify the right people to ask for feedback

Now you’ve determined what sort of questions to ask, you need to find who to ask. The best place to start is your closest circle, namely your team, your manager, and close collaborators. They are likely in the best position to give you insight into your strengths and things you could improve on.

Feedback from different sources helps you form a more holistic view (like in 360 degree feedback). Feedback doesn’t always have to be in person, you can use a platform like Impraise to ask for feedback from several people at once digitally and then follow up in person if needed.

Wether you are asking for feedback digitally or in-person, send the individuals you’d like feedback from a quick heads up so they can mentally prepare.

If relevant for the type of feedback you are after, widen your search. It could be people you worked with on a specific one-off project, or people from other companies or offices you’ve worked with. Don’t forget that peer feedback is also important, so be sure to ask your colleagues and not just your manager or people senior to you.

Productive feedback conversations

You want feedback conversations to flow naturally and comfortably. That is the best way to gain the information you need and maintain a good relationship with the people giving it. Use the following steps in order to have productive feedback sessions:

1. Ask for honesty

Encourage the people you ask for feedback to be helpful over nice. Let them know you are looking to get the the most out of their time and their honesty is valued and appreciated.

2. Be specific and timely

It is helpful to ask for feedback in context and in a timely manner, it can make it easier for the person you’ve asked for feedback to recall specific behaviors and examples that can facilitate your learning. For example, if want feedback on how you are developing on a certain skill it can be helpful to ask after a project or moment where you specifically used this skill.

3. Listen to learn

You are listening to a perspective which might be different to yours. Make sure you listen carefully so you understand what is being said, not just what resonates with your own perceptions. It’s natural to only hear what you want to but remain open to what is being shared.

4. Ask clarifying questions

Clarifying questions are a great way to confirm you understand and widen the search for more coaching advice. In many cases, simply asking questions like “Why is this important? or ” How might I approach this differently?” are a great place to start.

5. Take notes

Keep notes of the feedback you received so you can reference them as you need. Treat the notes like a commitment with yourself to change and improve.

6. Commit and follow up

Show your appreciation when others spend time sharing their perspective and providing constructive insights. This also encourages people to give you more feedback in the future. Make sure to follow up with your plan and progress, it’s nice for people to see how their feedback has impacted you.

Summary

Asking for feedback is a great way to help you grow professionally and personally. Pro-actively asking for it will help you learn faster. Ask yourself which areas or skills you want to develop, so you can prepare the right questions and approach the right people. By pro-actively asking for feedback, you may also become an example for others on your team, and help to develop a culture of feedback within your organization.

Get into the feedback mindset, download our e-book on How to Give Effective Feedback to help guide you.

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

How to Give Effective Feedback

Learn how to get into the feedback mindset, and how to give and receive positive or constructive feedback.

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Studies show that children with parents who take an active role in their education do better both academically and socially than their peers.

This is one of the many reasons why parental involvement can be a great thing for many schools. But the real question is not, “Should parents be involved?”; It’s, “How should parents be involved?”

One of the best ways to get parents to engage with education is through surveys that capture their feedback.

This feedback not only helps parents contribute positively to their children’s learning experience, but it also can be an indicator of a school’s overall success. By sharing their opinions, parents provide useful insights that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Why Parent Feedback Matters

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

According to a 2002 paper by Dr. Karen Mapp, parent involvement in schools helps students earn higher grades, boost test scores, improve social skills, and, perhaps most importantly, graduate.

Asking parents’ views on school issues also improves communication that can benefit your school in many ways. For example, parents who provide regular feedback are also more likely to understand and support any unique approaches to education or problem solving. They also are more likely to have a higher opinion of the staff and faculty.

This is important not only for the wellbeing of the students, but also for student retention and recruitment. Many schools that struggle with low attendance may wonder how to attract new families. Positive perception can drive word of mouth, so it becomes all the more important to provide ways for parents to speak.

But how should educators begin receiving feedback? Surveys are one of the best methods for collecting this type of feedback.

How Surveys Can Help

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Many industries and businesses rely on surveys to uncover the answers to important questions. While surveys are a great way to do that, they can also provoke important discussions and provide objective information helpful for making decisions.

In terms of your school, surveys can also be helpful in allowing parents to share input on specific programs, practices, or policies.

Surveys can help your staff assess needs, wants, and overall satisfaction from both parents and students. Surveys also shed light on any expectations a parent might have for their child’s learning experience.

Using surveys, you will be able to determine in advance which policies and decisions parents will not support, saving you time and energy down the road. Parents are also able to stay informed of changes that may affect them.

You may be able to gather insight in a few key areas, including:

What type of parental support students receive at home?

What barriers to success are parents noticing?

What habits or behaviors are helping students succeed?

How confident are parents in the support their child receives at school?

How do parents view their school regarding academic and social standards?

How well do a school’s academic program and structure meet their child’s needs?

How do parents view teachers’ roles in different aspects of their child’s schooling?

In essence, surveys are a window into the attitudes and behaviors of the families of your school. The more information you have to work with, the better you can implement strategies to help them achieve a better educational experience.

How to Get Parents to Take Surveys

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Of course, creating surveys won’t do you any good if no one fills them out. So how do you get parents to actually take your surveys?

Ask the Right Questions

There may be many different topics of concern for which parental feedback may be necessary, and that’s okay. Just don’t expect parents to answer them all on the same survey.

Keep surveys short and focused on a specific issue. If there is more than one concern, it’s okay to send more than one survey.

You also want to ask open-ended questions so parents can share their opinions without restraint. If the focus of your survey was on satisfaction, for example, you could ask the following:

What do you hope your child says about his/her experience in school by the end of the year?

What was your experience like in this grade? How do you remember that year of school?

What are your fears or concerns about your child in this year of school?

Is there anything else you can tell me about your child that you think would help support his/her learning?

Is there a question you hope I’ll ask you about your child?

Surveys are designed for open dialogue. Asking open-ended questions around specific topics will not only help you get productive feedback, but also provide an incentive for parents to fill them out.

Keep Things Anonymous

If you’re looking for honest responses, anonymity is key. Parents are generally more likely to fill out a survey that allows them to remain anonymous, though it’s still a good idea to include an optional space for parents to provide a name, email, or phone number just in case.

However, if you feel like questions will need to be related back to specific students, you can also assure parents that the results of the survey will be confidential.

Be sure to provide a follow-up number they can contact if they have more questions.

Choose the Right Delivery Method

No matter what, it’s important to limit any obstacles for parents to submit a survey.

Giving paper surveys to students to bring home is a recipe for lost or incomplete surveys (only later to be found crumpled up in a backpack or locker). Instead, consider sending an email with a link to an online survey.

It is much easier to administer, analyze, and track online surveys, and parents will be more likely to complete an online survey that can be finished quickly.

Send a Thank-You Note

Finally, it’s important to thank parents for their time in some way, whether through an incentive like a prize or giveaway, or through a simple thank you note.

Many online surveys will send an automatic response and allow you to personalize the message to come from a specific person.

Showing that you value their feedback will help parents feel involved and appreciated, which is exactly what you want.

Final Thoughts

Keeping parents involved in your school isn’t always the easiest thing, but you can make it both fun and informative by providing surveys throughout the year that encourage feedback.

Be sure that your surveys are short and to the point, and encourage parents to fill them out by using open-ended questions that give them freedom to respond.

Make sure you’re using a format that gives them easy access to complete your surveys, and no matter what, thank them for their time.

All of these things will help you not only gather data to improve your programs and policies, but build a foundation for trust with parents and students alike.

[Case study]
How We Got
Fort McMurray
Montessori School
40 New Students
In 6 Months
Using Facebook Ads

Your Feedback Has an Impact When Provided Respectfully and With Care

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Provide Feedback That Has an Impact

Make your feedback have the impact it deserves by the manner and the approach you use when you want to provide employees with performance feedback. Your feedback can make a difference to people if you can avoid provoking a defensive response.

Especially to perceived negative or less than positive feedback, employees have a tendency to react defensively because people tend to take feedback personally and not professionally. This is a deterrent to your ability to help the employee improve their performance.

These guidelines will help you help employees develop their performance through your positive use of feedback.

Here’s How You Can Best Provide Feedback

Effective employee feedback is specific, not general.

To provide specific feedback, for example, say, “The report that you turned in yesterday was well-written, understandable, and made your points about the budget very effectively.” Don’t say, “good report.” This statement is too general for the employee to use the information to improve.

One of the purposes of effective, constructive feedback is to let the individual know the specific behavior that you’d like to see more of from him. General feedback like a pat on the back makes the employee feel good momentarily but doesn’t do a good job of reinforcing the behavior.

Useful feedback always focuses on a specific behavior.

You want to specifically identify the behavior in need of improvement not on a person or their intentions. (When you participated in competing conversations during the staff meeting, while Mary had the floor, you distracted the other people in attendance. As a result, Mary’s point was partially missed.)

The best feedback is sincerely and honestly provided to help.

Trust this statement. People will know if they are receiving feedback for any other reason. Most people have an internal radar that can easily detect insincerity. Keep this in mind when you offer feedback.

Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can do something about.

For example, you would never provide feedback If you can, provide any tools, training, time, or support that the person needs to successfully perform as you need them to perform.

When possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful.

Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, “I’d like to give you some feedback about the presentation, is that okay with you?” This gives the recipient some control over the situation which is desirable. Perhaps the recipient might say, “How about tomorrow? I’d like to think about my performance overnight.

Provide feedback a recipient might use.

When you share information and specific observations, you are providing feedback that an employee might use.

It does not include advice unless you have permission or advice was requested. Ask the employee what he or she might do differently as a result of hearing the feedback. You are more likely to help the employee change his approach than if you tell the employee what to do or how to change.

Provide feedback close to the event.

Whether the feedback is positive or constructive, provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible. Effective feedback is well-timed so that the employee can easily connect the feedback with his actions. Having to remember a few days later is not ideal.

Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why.

Asking why is asking people about their personal motivation and that provokes defensiveness from the person receiving the feedback. Ask, What happened? How did that happen? How can you prevent that outcome in the future? How can I have done a better job of helping you? What do you need from me in the future?

Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop.

A feedback loop such as asking the employee a question or observing their changed behavior enables you to know that the other party understood what you communicated. Set a time to get back together to discuss whether the feedback changed performance and whether any additional actions are needed.

Successful feedback is as consistent as possible.

If an employee’s actions are great today, they’re great tomorrow. If the policy violation merits disciplinary action, it should always merit disciplinary action—for this employee or any other likewise performing. Mixed messages produce no results.

Tips for Providing the Most Effective Feedback

When you provide feedback to an employee, keep these five tips in mind.

What is Constructive Feedback?

Constructive feedback is supportive feedback given to individuals Personal Brand Our personal brand is what people see as our identity, who they see us as and what qualities and things they associate with us. It reveals to help identify solutions to areas of weakness they may have. Therefore, it comes with positive intentions and is used as a supportive communication tool to address specific issues or concerns.

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Purpose of Constructive Feedback

The purpose of constructive feedback is to give feedback to an individual in a way that will lead to improvements or corrections. This is important, as it enhances personal and professional growth in individuals.

For example, constructive feedback can:

  • Improve employee morale
  • Reduce confusion regarding expectations and current performance
  • Provide a new perspective and give valuable insight to the person receiving feedback
  • Positively impact an individual’s behavior

Making Feedback Constructive

It is important to be able to differentiate between constructive feedback and destructive feedback. Destructive feedback points at faults and is a direct attack on the individual. In destructive feedback, no practical advice or supportive feedback is given.

Examples of destructive feedback include:

  • “You’re wrong.”
  • “That is not how you do things around here.”
  • “You have no idea what you are doing.”

Here are some tips for making feedback constructive:

1. Focus on observation and not inference

Constructive feedback should relate to what you can see or hear about that person’s behavior rather than making assumptions and interpretations.

2. Focus on behavior and not the individual

Constructive feedback should be about what the individual did rather than who the individual is.

3. Focus on things that can be changed

Constructive feedback should be about things that a person can change and improve on rather than on something that is out of his/her control.

4. Provide recommendations and solutions

Constructive feedback should include a specific solution or recommendation.

Examples of Constructive Feedback

Consider the following examples of giving constructive feedback:

1. John has been an employee at your company for six months. Lately, he seems disengaged and not motivated to work.

A response can be:

  • “I have noticed that you don’t seem as motivated to do work as you usually do and it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. If there are reasons as to why you are feeling this way, I would love to talk with you about it. I think if we meet up once a week to check up on everything, you could be much happier.”

2. Michelle has been constantly showing up late for work.

A response can be:

  • “When you show up late to work every day, it irritates me because it feels like you are letting our team down. The hours are 9 to 3 and when you show up late to work, it has a negative impact on our team. What do you think? From now on, I really need you to arrive to work on time and change your behavior.”

3. Carol has recently taken a more back-seat role in her position as a manager.

A response can be:

  • “I noticed that you are not taking as much responsibility and initiative as you used to. It makes me feel like I have not done a good job. Did I say or do something that would make you react this way? I would love for you to address any problems or concerns you have.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Here are five steps for giving constructive feedback:

1. State the purpose of your feedback

State what you will be talking about and why it is important.

2. Describe what you have observed and your reaction

Clearly identify the action or event and how it makes you or other members feel.

3. Give the individual an opportunity to respond

After you have stated the purpose, importance, observation, and your reaction, ask the person what they think about it.

4. Offer specific suggestions or solutions

After you hear the individual out, give input as to how the situation can be improved.

5. Summarize everything discussed

Summarize everything that was discussed to avoid any misunderstandings. Also, summarizing helps ensure that the constructive feedback was communicated efficiently.

Other Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to constructive feedback. To further enhance your knowledge and help advance your career, CFI recommends the following resources:

  • Leadership Traits Leadership Traits Leadership traits refer to personal qualities that define effective leaders. Leadership refers to the ability of an individual or an organization to guide individuals, teams, or organizations toward the fulfillment of goals and objectives. Leadership plays an important function in management
  • Leading by Example Leading by Example Leadership is a process in which an individual influences the behavior and attitudes of other people. Leading by example helps other people see what lies
  • Listening Skills Listening Skills Having effective listening skills means being able to display interest in the topic discussed and understand the information provided. In today’s society, the ability to communicate effectively is becoming increasingly important.
  • Interpersonal Skills Interpersonal Skills Interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate, interact, and work with individuals and groups. Those with good interpersonal skills are strong verbal and non-verbal communicators and are often considered to be “good with people”.

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Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Become a certified Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Become a Certified Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® CFI’s Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification will help you gain the confidence you need in your finance career. Enroll today! by completing CFI’s online financial modeling classes and training program!

Today’s Get to Know Your Customers Day! I bet you already knew that and have something big planned to get valuable customer feedback. No? If you haven’t hopped on the feedback wagon, we’ll tell you why it’s a great idea and how to get started.

Why You Should Ask for Feedback

If you’re like the average business, you lose somewhere around 10% of your customer base to turnover every year. And you’ll never know why. unless you ask your customers. Their insights can provide valuable feedback that you can use to reduce turnover and keep more of your customer base.

Unhappy Customers

When customers are unhappy, research shows that only 1 in 26 will actually complain to the company. Of those who don’t complain, as many as 91% leave the company and churn. If you’re not tapping into the feedback of unsatisfied customers, you’re losing a lot of unnecessary business.

It’s estimated that 11% of customer churn can be prevented simply by company outreach. And a whopping 67% of churn can be eliminated if the customer’s problem is solved at the first point of contact.

Happy Customers

You probably do plenty of research about what your target market is looking for, but don’t forget to measure what your existing customers want. We know it’s much less costly to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones — it’s also a lot easier to sell into your existing base of customers than to the rest of the market. 65% of companies are able to successfully upsell to existing customers versus just 12% who can cross-sell to new customers. [Source: Huffington Post]

Tapping into what your customers’ needs are no matter how long they’ve been with you can help you to sell more into your existing customer base and give you a good idea of where to focus new product development efforts.

Now How Can You Do It?

There are plenty of ways to elicit customer feedback, and it’s easier than ever with all of today’s technology. Your feedback process can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. Here are some ideas for how to elicit feedback — whether you want to go simple or robust, you can find your groove with one of the methods below.

Keep it Simple

Send surveys to your email list. You’ve been marketing and building your email list, so why not use it? Sending out quick surveys to your customers’ emails is a surefire way to get your questions in front of them. Making your survey brief and super easy to complete will help you get the most responses possible.

Add online surveys to your website. Adding a survey right onto your website is a great way to get feedback while the customer’s experience is fresh and your business is top-of-mind. Surveys about website usability and why a customer did or didn’t make a purchase do great on your site.

Mail out paper surveys. It’s old-fashioned, but super easy to do. Sending out paper surveys is a little less common, so your business may stick out just enough to get a response. The downside is you’ll have to process all of that data by hand or enter into a program like Excel.

Give your customers a call. There’s not much simpler than picking up the phone and making a call. Written surveys are good, but being able to experience your customers’ tone and implicit meanings behind their answers will help you get higher quality feedback and a deeper level of insight.

Go Big

User testing. When it comes to product, website, or app testing, there’s nothing better than live feedback from actual users while they’re using the product. With tools like UserTesting.com, you can get video feedback of a set number of real users going through a particular process that you specify (e.g. Finding your FAQ, making an online purchase, etc.)

Interviews and focus groups. The big brother of phone interviews — in-person interviews and focus groups give you tons of useful info from a forum that’s dialogic. By letting the conversation flow, you’ll gain insights that you may never have thought to ask about.

Analytics. Actually talking to your customers is great, but some of the most valuable feedback can be hidden in their behavior. Monitoring your website analytics with a tool like Google Analytics will help you see what behaviors lead to conversion, which don’t, and identify key issues.

Social listening. Some of the best and worst things your customers have to say about your business will end up on social media. That’s why it’s absolutely key to pay attention Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else your customers may be.

Get to Getting to Know

The third Thursday of every quarter is Get to Know Your Customers Day. We celebrate it 4 times a year because being knowledgeable about your customers — their needs and wants — is a crazy huge part of successfully developing and marketing your business.

It’s an ongoing process, so set aside a little time every quarter to learn about those people who make your business float. You’ll draw invaluable insight and be better off for your efforts.

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About Author

Why you need to ask for feedback...and how to use it

Kiera Abbamonte

Previously the Content Marketing Manager for LogMeIn and Grasshopper, Kiera’s now a freelance writer specialized in writing blog content for e-commerce and SaaS companies. She’s written for Kissmetrics, Help Scout, BigCartel, and of course, Grasshopper. Catch up with her on Twitter @kieraabbamonte.