- Aim for balance. No-one wants an uninterrupted flow of criticism during an appraisal, but neither do we really want a shower of praise. One kills morale and motivation, the other is mood-boosting, but offers no opportunities for growth. When offering feedback – both professionally and personally – aim for a balance between what the person did well and what they can still improve.
- Get specific. Blanket statements like “You do great presentations” or “You don’t run meetings well” are unhelpful and sometimes confusing. Tell the person you are evaluating what makes their presentations so engaging – so that they continue to do them that way and even develop their technique! Tell the person what it is about meetings with them that doesn’t work for you – maybe they always run over time, there are no agenda or minutes, conversation is allowed to become a free-for-all. Making feedback specific makes it easier for them to turn comments into action points.
- Offer suggestions. Speaking of action, don’t leave a person dangling with a couple of “well-done” and “must try harder” lists, make concrete suggestions to help them improve. If your teen really needs to level up their algebra, make the point then suggest a few ways they could work towards this goal. If your manager (360° feedback exists!) seems distant and unapproachable, make this point gently and suggest a weekly one-to-one meeting and perhaps a monthly team lunch.
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