Motivating Others: Give Helpful Feedback
Each of the previous seven columns presented a step to motivating others:
inspire confidence, demonstrate enthusiasm, ask “what’s in it for others,”
delegate responsibly, help people learn from their mistakes, listen
effectively and communicate openly. The eighth step is to give helpful
feedback. Here are five suggestions.
- Focus on observations, not inferences. Careful observation is a key
to helpful feedback. Don’t attempt to give feedback to others if you
haven’t actually observed the behavior and are unsure of the facts; that
is, if you are only responding to inferences based on
circumstantial evidence or incomplete observation. Give feedback only
on what you observed.
- Be specific, not abstract. Avoid general comments and statements using
such words as “all,” “never,” and “always,” which place arbitrary limits
on behavior. Clarify such pronouns as “it,” and “that.” Specificity is
a hallmark of clear feedback.
- Share ideas, don’t give advice. Most people respond better to ideas or
suggestions than to advice. Even when people ask for advice, consider
how to couch that information as an idea upon which they can act.
- Make certain feedback is of value to the receiver and not a release for
you, remembering positive feedback with suggestions for change is more
useful than simply giving negative information. And if the feedback you
plan to give concerns something that can’t be changed, forget it.
- Give feedback at appropriate times and on time. Feedback delayed is
feedback denied. Feedback should be given as close as possible to the
time when the behavior occurred. On the other hand, giving feedback when
people are tired, hurried, or in the wrong frame of mind may be
counterproductive. Carefully consider the time to
final thing to keep in mind. Seek feedback on your feedback. Always look
for ways to improve your feedback to others. Next month we’ll look at
another step to help you motivate others.