Saturday, 19 February 2011

Face2Face Intermediate - Article: Feedback.




When an organization tries to improve its performance, feedback helps it to make required adjustments. Feedback serves as motivation for many people in the workplace. When one receives negative or positive feedback, they decide how they will apply it to his or her job. Joseph Volkmann says that to find the greatest level of success in an organization, working with other people, a person should learn how to accept any kind of feedback, analyze it in the most positive manner possible, and use it to impact future decision making.
He adds that Americans do not like feedback. According to a study by Harvard University with the US Labor and Statistics, over 80% of Americans reacted negatively when they received a feedback. According to the study, the main reason was that managers and coaches did not know how to give feedback, and that employees confused feedback with criticism. Also, according to the study, over 70% of American employees have received more negative than positive feedback, which helped to distort the difference between feedback and criticism.
But giving constructive feedback to employees doesn’t have to be difficult.
Positive feedback, when you tell people they’ve done well, should be easy. For example:
• thanking people for doing a job well
• congratulating them for solving a problem for you
• discussing progress with teams and praising their commitment
• celebrating successes
This is the kind of feedback that everyone likes; the kind that motivates people to perform well consistently. Here are some more practical strategies for improving feedback at work.
Providing good feedback is a powerful managerial tool to address an employee's problem behaviors or to simply improve performance (for example, making a good employee better). It seems really simple. Unfortunately, few of us do it very well. Integrating a few basic concepts discussed below can make your feedback effective and powerful.
Good Feedback Is:
• Understandable — Keep it clear and simple.
• Focused — Address only 1 or 2 issues, not a list of problems.
• Specific — Provide details and examples. Personalize it and be precise.
• Substantive — Comments are meaningful, addressing the "heart" of the issue.
• Objective — Say what the problem is.
• Channeled — Directed toward the behavior to be corrected, not the person.
• Informative — Explain why the behavior is a problem.
When someone says, “That’s a stupid idea!” you could respond, “How could we change it to make it more realistic?”
Coaching is the best kind of feedback. Coaching is based on mutual respect, confidentiality and trust. A coach believes that people are able to change the way they operate and achieve more if they are given the opportunity to do something about it.
Avoid feedback that however unintentionally criticizes the employee not their actions. If you leave them feeling humiliated, they will be even more reluctant to change. You can’t ignore the problem if something is obviously wrong, but there is a difference between criticism and constructive feedback.
Telling someone they are incompetent or lazy is a personal attack on their character and will probably lead to an emotional response.
Constructive criticism means starting from a different position. Your criticism should be factual, impersonal and timely. The value of changing their behavior must also be clear. You might say, “This week I’ve noticed you’ve been late to three sales meetings and now you want to leave early today for a dental appointment. When you do that, the rest of the team feels bad and tomorrow someone will have to do your work for you. So what can we do about it?” Now here’s a chance for the person to respond.
Can feedback really help to improve working relationships and productivity?
Peter O’Brien, from Coaching Hills, Los Angeles, wrote in his article on The New York Times that older generations until the Generation X were reluctant to accept and give feedback because they took it personally and could not understand the feedback was about their performance and not about themselves.
He adds that Generation Y, on the other hand, is much more open to feedbacks and in fact, loves them. In fact, they expect feedback from their employers and teachers. By creating an environment where feedback is well-given and well-understood, feedback actually improves not only their performance but also the personality of the employees.

source: Face2Face Teacher's book


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