Feedback is always helpful as it provides commentary on performance and allows an individual to ascertain areas they can improve.
Feedback can often be delivered as “constructive criticism” which gains a bad reputation because it still comes across as criticising a person but it is laced with a veil of helpfulness that is supposed to help guide a person in the right direction.
Think of feedback as a way to back up an argument or any assertion. If a lecturer grades a student with a credit but the student feels hard done by because they thought their work was distinction-worthy, feedback is used as the evidence to support the mark that was given.
In this way, a lecturer explains how the student did or did not meet the brief by running through the criteria on a rubric, but also cites specific examples to support the mark they have handed out.
Evidence is critical in supporting an argument. It is valuable because simply stating something does not hold enough weight unless someone is willing to take your word for it.
If someone says “73.6% of statistics are made up” then they will have to provide some kind of reference or source. This is where evidence would lend credibility to the assertion.
Giving feedback is always daunting for both parties, because it can be anxiety inducing for the recipient and requires the person giving it to be critical to some extent.
However, it is incredible in identifying and solving issues so it must be done and there are several ways people can approach the feedback process to make sure it is valuable.
- Create safety – Lead in by making the recipient feel comfortable because otherwise they might feel unproductive or simply may not apply it.
- Be positive – It is essential that the feedback strikes the balance. If you do have to criticise something, follow up the negative with something positive to reinforce that the recipient did something correctly. It is also more likely to make them continue listening to the important things being said.
- Be specific – Most people respond best to knowing exactly what can be improved. You can also add to this with a positive comment to support the argument being made. Vague and/or general feedback is often confusing and won’t help the recipient understand your point.
- Be immediate – Give the feedback as soon as possible. The individual might not even remember the exact instance you’re referring to if you wait too long so making sure you supply them with the evidence that they did a good job sooner rather than later is important.
- Be tough – Don’t be mean, but be critical. Honest feedback is always appreciated and supporting this with example will make it obvious that you’re not trying to slam their performance, but that a certain part could be better. You can always ask for their perspective on how they felt they went with the task as well to help guide the process.
Feedback is great as evidence; it provides a tool to support an argument and provide great value to any assertion. It is important to help guide people and explain things, thus holding great power but it is important to deliver it in the right way to make it as effective as possible.