How do I get my Staff Member to Hear Feedback Non-defensively? How do I get my Staff Member to take Constructive Criticism?
Assess the Effectiveness of your Feedback
What is Feedback?
Feedback is a management tool that is used to let the employee know how they are performing. It is a communication to another person of how you see the actions of that person and how they affect you.
"People perform best when they know how they are doing."
What is Effective Feedback?
Feedback is only effective when the employee is left feeling enthusiastic, confident, and planning to improve him/herself even more. To be effective, feedback should be given as soon after the event as is possible.
- Is stated in specific terms rather than vague general ones
- Is directed at behaviour/performance rather than personalities
- Is an observation of events rather than a labelling or emotional judgement
- Focuses on the coaching style instead of put-downs
- Allows the receiver to solve his/her problems
Feedback is most appreciated when it is asked for.
What are Healthy Responses to Feedback?
- Acceptance: agreeing with the feedback from others, positive or negative, and using their comments to help create change.
- Realism: not denying a problem exists, the absence of false humility, facing things head on.
- Attentiveness: paying attention to others' reactions be it verbal or nonverbal, in order to achieve insight.
- Openness: pulling down communication barriers, remaining open, listening completely, and acting on others' suggestions.
- Yes, I Will Try: the attitude of agreeing with others, trying a suggested course of action for change or personal growth.
- "Thanks, I Needed That'' : spoken appreciation, and gratitude, for the input of others, even gaining insight, self-motivation, and self-awareness.
- Active Listening: staying present in the current conversation. When feedback is being offered, they listen to what is being said.
- Honesty: being clear with themselves and others as to what they accept and reject from their input.
- Assertiveness: letting others know how they feel, letting them know what they want from them, and what they will do if you comply with their request.
- Agreement: letting others know by word and deed that they agree with your comments and appreciate your interest.
What are the Typical Negative Reactions to Feedback?
Many highly intelligent motivated professionals let their habitual emotional reactions get in the way of learning. Even some of us who say we relish constructive criticism can have strong emotional reactions when we receive negative feedback about our attitudes and behaviour. In some situations we may fail to recognise the value, truth, and worth of feedback and therefore respond negatively to positive and negative feedback. It is easy to become defensive and shut out what others have to tell us. The following behaviours may indicate that a person is having difficulty "hearing" your feedback:
- Rejection: outright refusal of feedback whether it is positive or negative.
- Denial: pretending that the reality pointed out by others is not true or is not important.
- Ignoring: refusing to listen to others' input, stubbornly thinking that the reality pointed out doesn't exist.
- Defensiveness: drawing themselves up and raising a barrier to both the positive and negative feedback.
- Yes, but: the attitude of initially and briefly agreeing with others, but having an immediate reason why their ideas wouldn't work.
- Anger: showing rage, hostility, resentment, and embarrassment, over the feedback.
- Withdrawal: pulling into themselves; an attempt to remain unseen and unheard when feedback is being given.
- Passivity: passive participation in a conversation when another is offering positive or negative input or feedback.
- Aggression: turning others' feedback back on them by attacking the motivation behind the feedback.
- Fake Agreement: giving the impression that your input is welcome and accepted when it really is resented and scorned.
How can I Support my Staff Member to Receive Feedback Positively?
Remember, you cannot change another person. Your function is to provide the other person with information, on the basis of which they may either be motivated to continue their positive behaviour or consider changes themselves.
Set the Scene
Remember, people feel vulnerable when confronted by personal flaws or shortcomings and, in that state, are unable to take a constructive approach to identifying the solutions that will make them more successful and satisfied. This may be especially true if the input or feedback they receive is surprising to them and they are taken aback. Take them aside and in private, take the time to give background, gradually prepare them for any negative feedback.
Act as a Facilitator or Coach
Relate to the person as a partner in their development process. Be aware of their personal objectives and their general goals, and be aware of their progress towards these goals. Never give feedback on things over which the person has no control!
Give more Positive than Negative Feedback
Negative feedback is difficult to "hear". Alone, it is useless - it has to be balanced either with positive feedback or with constructive recommendations. With negative feedback, people work harder because they HAVE TO (to try and avoid the criticism). However, with positive feedback, people work harder because they WANT TO, and most will do much more!
Follow the Principles of Effective Feedback
You will help your staff member to "hear" your feedback if you follow the following principles:
- Be non-threatening - keep your body relaxed, upright and still; keep your voice moderate and level; keep your face RELAXED - Don’t smile or frown; maintain eye contact (watch for cultural differences).
- Be non-judgemental - Judgements come from the ‘critical parent’ within us and should be avoided. Name-calling, put-downs, and ‘red flag’ words are examples of judgements.
- Be specific and objective - Don't use general terms, avoid language that labels the other person; you are evaluating behaviour and performance, you are not evaluating a person.
- Be Direct - Statements that are indirect are often misunderstood! You will save yourself and your staff time, and reduce frustration by being direct.
- Use ‘I-statements’ - these personalise your feedback; don't tell them what to do "You have to ...", "you should ..."; don't try to interpret or assume what others may have thought.
- Where possible allow the other person to come up with solutions. If not, provide definite suggestions for improvement; check whether your suggestions are accepted as valid or useful by the other person.
Following these principles will help the other person to listen to what you say, without having to judge whether you are right or wrong and getting into an antagonistic mood.
Get in Touch with Jump
If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.
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