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September 2011 - Fighting for Feedback: How to Give It

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John Kline

We fight for feedback. Most of us want both positive and corrective feedback. Positive feedback is reinforcing and encourages us; corrective feedback points out areas of weakness so we can grow.

When I was younger, I solicited feedback, especially from my superiors. But I assumed as I rose to more responsible leadership positions, I would no longer desire or need feedback. I was wrong! I still want and need feedback from my superiors, my peers, and my subordinates. Since most individuals want to make a positive difference, they welcome valid feedback that helps them do that. Here are three things to consider when giving feedback:

Give feedback often and consistently. Reinforcing positive behavior produces more of it. And corrective feedback helps subordinates meet your expectations in the future.

Don’t wait until appraisal time to give feedback. Behavioral psychologists tell us the sooner feedback is given, the better it reinforces desired behavior or corrects the undesired behavior.

Don’t give feedback only to subordinates. Give positive, honest feedback to your peers and your superiors. Recently I congratulated my boss on a presentation. He thanked me and said, “John, tell me anything you can think of that would have made it better.” I gave him a couple of ideas and he thanked me again. Later he sent me an e-mail, again thanking me. Notice two things: He wanted feedback, and   by sincerely thanking me, he ensured I would likely give him honest feedback again.

Satisfy people’s desire for feedback.  Give it honestly and give it often.  Next month I will discuss how to solicit and receive feedback from others.  

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

September 2011 - Fighting for Feedback: How to Give It
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