The importance of feedback in consulting: how to give and receive feedback to improve performance
Feedback is feedback that one person/group of people receives from another person/group of people. Feedback can be positive or negative, depending on whether it highlights the recipient's strengths or weaknesses. Feedback can also be constructive or destructive, depending on whether it helps the recipient improve or hurts them. Feedback is important for learning, motivation, and performance because it shows recipients what they are doing well and what they can improve.
Here are some tips that can help give and receive feedback successfully:
Respectful and empathetic interaction form the basis for successful feedback
Feedback should always be given with respect and appreciation for the person receiving it. Overly offensive accusations that could undermine the person's self-esteem or motivation must be avoided at all costs. Instead, the person giving feedback should put him or herself in the position of the person receiving it in order to understand the feedback from the other perspective.
Provide and solicit feedback in a timely and regular manner
Feedback should not only be given at the end of a project or a performance period, but continuously and in the best case periodically. In this way, problems can be reacted to in good time and improvements can be introduced. Feedback should also not be given too late after a situation, but as close as possible to the time when the behavior or performance was observed, so that the reference to the situation does not increasingly fade. As many opportunities as possible should be taken to exchange positive or negative feedback, whether in a face-to-face conversation, an email, or a short chat.
Feedback should be factual and specific, as well as balanced and fair
It is advantageous if feedback refers to concrete examples and facts, not general judgments or opinions. Vague or sweeping statements should be avoided; instead, precise descriptions should be given of what was good or bad, why this is important, and how the specific aspect can be improved. In addition, feedback should include both positive and negative aspects, if possible in the situation, to provide a realistic picture of performance. Feedback should be given fairly and objectively; emotions should not play a role. Likewise, the context and circumstances in which the behavior or outcome occurred must be included.
How do I receive feedback correctly?
Feedback is an opportunity for self-improvement and growth, not feedback meant to be negative. Everyone should be open to constructive feedback and try to learn from it. Justification or adopting a defensive posture would be out of place here. In addition, it is often useful to actively ask for feedback if little feedback is expected elsewhere.
Acting in a dialogue and solution-oriented manner
Feedback should not be a monologue, but a - in the best case - structured and organized exchange of perspectives and experiences. Active listening, including asking questions, promotes understanding and shows interest in the content of the feedback. It is important not only to express what should be improved, but also how it can be improved.
In summary, feedback is only value-adding if it is conveyed and received correctly and the right conclusions are drawn from it. Otherwise, feedback can miss its positive target and quickly have the opposite effect.
Feedback is an essential part of consulting. When we give and receive feedback properly, we can improve our performance, satisfy our clients, improve relationships and advance our careers.
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Author: Lennart Hollweg