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The Craft of Feedback

In today’s hyper-connected world, hardly anyone works in a silo. If you are working for money, you are producing something for the person who’s paying you, whether it is your client, your company, or your manager. Working with others means catering to expectations; and as we all know, with expectations comes feedback.

What is feedback? It is advice intended to improve the output of a task. The need for feedback arises when there’s a gap between what’s expected and what’s produced. A review checks if the output is meeting its goal, and a feedback alters the output to close the gap. Feedback gives people a chance to view a piece of work from a different perspective, making the final product more robust.

A useful feedback highlights the positives, addresses the gaps or inconsistencies, and offers relevant insight or perspective about the work. It can even suggest specific instructions along with an explanation for the same. Most importantly, feedback should have a genuine intent of helping the receiver improve their work.

At one point or the other, you too must have felt the frustration that comes with unsatisfactory feedback. You’ve been at the receiving end of vague, unclear, and practically useless feedback. At the same time, you’ve also dished out instructions or directives, thinking it serves as feedback. (psst, it doesn’t).

The key is in knowing how to craft effective and positive ways of initiating and accepting dialogues. We’ve really simplified the cyclical nature of feedback and listed it out in pointers below.

Communicate: Articulate your expectations before the employee begins working. Make sure you give a clear picture of the end product. Clear expectation reduces the mismatch between the desired product and the actual output.

Check: How would you know that the produced work doesn’t match the desired output? A thorough quality check step is essential in identifying gaps and ensuring consistent quality of deliverables. This step identifies the output which requires feedback.

Review: “Maza nahi aa raha” is an abstract feeling, not a metric. It is important that you set specific and standardised parameters to assess a piece of work. These parameters need to be relevant to the job, measurable/perceivable, and rooted in subject principles. Feedback will be based on improving these parameters.

Listen: Ask the employee about the thought they put into the piece. Strive to understand their point of view and their unique way and use this knowledge to craft your feedback. This step helps distinguish the nature of fish from the nature of a cat before you judge them on a task.

Structure: Craft your feedback with a glass half full approach; talk about the good parts and how they can improve the weak parts. Don’t just point at the flaws, help them learn why it’s a flaw, and how they can avoid it in the future. This way, you create useful and encouraging feedback.

Coach: This approach helps you deliver effective feedback. The idea is to assume the role of the employee’s coach with an aim to improve their game. This helps the employee realise that you both are in the same team and that the feedback is intended to help them and not discourage them. As a result, they will be more receptive to your input.

Time: Good feedback delivered at the wrong time is bad feedback. One important aspect of delivering an effective input is its timing. Feedback is a reflective process which requires mental bandwidth. So, avoid discussing feedback amidst tight timelines or busy spells. Ensure the person has the time to absorb, reflect on, and apply the feedback. Of course, the process becomes faster with practice, but it’s important to approach it patiently. 

Apply: What do you do after sharing feedback? You make the employee accountable for reflecting on the discussion, revising the product, and rechecking it against the intended output. This last step takes the journey back to the checking stage of the feedback process. If the gap has been filled, the output can go out; if not, you can go through the same steps again until you reach the desired output, thus creating a cyclic process called feedback loop.

Thus, we learn that critiquing somebody’s work needs to be handled with thought and consideration. There are prescribed methods that don't make feedback seem like a kick in the gut, but more like lighting a bulb in the mind.

Feedback helps align individuals to a common goal in their own unique ways, fostering a culture of support, communication, understanding, clarity, and growth. Integrating the craft of feedback in one’s life cycle is the key to the evolution of individuals and organisations.


Psst! This blog was made with💚 and created after some thought by a real person.#NoGenerativeAI


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