Feedback: how to give one and why is it so important?




When the subject of feedback comes up, it is quite common for a lot of people to enter a defensive mode, stating that they don’t like to give it to anyone. However, when it comes to receiving, this point of view changes, especially if we are talking about constructive feedback. It means, there is a great inconsistency for itself. Don’t you agree?

In order to understand that, according to a survey carried out by the Project Management Institute in Brazil, 76% of companies say that the main reason for failure in projects are the communication problems. And in this scenario, we can place feedback (or the lack of it) as a pillar that needs to be continuously worked on within companies.

Well, if you reached our article, I believe you are interested in knowing more about it, and even looking for ways to write a really good feedback for a colleague, right? In this article, we will share some tips to help you out.

Keep reading and enjoy our content!

What does feedback mean?

Feedback is the idea of “giving something back” when it comes to communication. The main objective is to give a return of an act, information or process. Sometimes we may need an outside view in order to improve our skills, attitude or behavior.

According to the records, the term arose during the Industrial Revolution, around the 13th century, and aimed to point out how energy production returned to the starting point in a mechanical system. 

Since then, the term has become much more related to a method for evaluating people’s performance on a daily basis, whether in the personal or professional spheres.

The logic of feedback is that someone can point out points that somebody else needs to improve, compliments or even praises, so that they can keep on improving and growing.

However, despite the concept of the term being related to the idea of helping a person to hone their skills, it is quite common for individuals to avoid applying feedback in real life. Either because they are afraid of offending the receiver or because they consider the assessment unfair (or even wrong) on the part of the one who is making the observations.

In this way, a vicious circle is created: identifying mistakes that co-workers are making, never talking about them and then allowing this failure to repeat itself endlessly, generating several gaps.

But that was just one example. There are several other problems that might end up happening by the lack of feedback.

Is there positive and negative feedback?

Yes and no. This is because many people believe that negative feedback is associated to the fact that it is bad or harmful, when in fact, it is related to highlighting a problem that must be improved.

That is, when we say: “you did not reach your goals in this period. How can we solve this problem?” This is an example of negative feedback, because it points out a problem and focuses on solving it.

In this way, as it exposes a debility of the person that is receiving the feedback, it is often understood as something bad. But it is important to be able to deal with this type of comment, so that we can always improve. After all, we all need to keep growing.

And what about positive feedback?

On the other hand, positive feedback is related to praise and aims to promote an attitude that should be repeated, such as: “congratulations, you have achieved all your goals this period!

Thus, we should avoid insignificant or offensive feedback. This sort of feedback is generic and does not help the receiver to improve. It is when the person offends you or criticizes you with no intention of helping, only pointing out mistakes. Many times, this kind of comment comes out with many adjectives and little actual information.

It is like this example: “your performance was bad last month because you didn’t meet your goals“. Do you realize that this feedback does not help somebody to evolve? It is very likely that they already know they didn’t achieve their goals. Moreover, the one who gave it did not bring an alternative for improvement, which is necessary.

Why is feedback important within organizations?

Well, I believe that you have already understood that feedback is a tool for continuous improvement of people within companies. Its logic is that, from another point of view, someone can keep improving themselves. And this has a number of benefits for organizations, such as:

#1 The value of feedback for the company

Lack of communication is a major problem within organizations nowadays. In this setting , an accumulation of mismanagement can be one of the triggers that leads to a high company turnover and an unhealthy work environment.

In other words, if part of the problem – in this case communication – stops being a recurring problem, the chances of your employees being satisfied are greater. For this, it is essential that leaders and HR professionals encourage the great secret of feedback: listening.

This is because only giving positive feedback won’t be enough to mitigate communication problems. Negative feedback will also need to be given. So, if your company stimulates and shares that it has a feedback culture, it allows the employee to understand that the subjects pointed out for improvement are not being taken personally and are something natural.

#2 Importance of feedback for employees

Feedback is a powerful tool that can help in people’s development. It is through it that many leaders point out what should be improved, so that employees can achieve a higher performance.

For this, it is essential to always keep your teams engaged, allowing the feedback to also be applied horizontally, that is, to their peers. All to ensure that knowledge is always being raised and shared within the work environment.

#3 Importance of feedback for leaders

A good manager must be aware that they are one of the main responsible for the development of the people on their team, and, consequently, for the results achieved by the company. And feedback happens to be the way that will help allowing this growth to happen.

Moreover, this movement should also be promoted to happen from the bottom up. In other words, the employees must also give feedback to their leaders. In this way, we ensure a growth and development process on the managers side too.

What are the types of feedback?

There are some basic feedback models that help many people structure their thoughts and facts. While there is no magic trick for these practices, you can use some of the types of feedback to help you.

Learn about the types of feedback below:

1 – Sandwich

The sandwich technique is much discussed in the psychological market and its effectiveness itself can be quite questionable. However, you can understand how it works to build from it a healthier and more functional feedback.

In practice, the sandwich feedback has a three-layered argumentation: praise, question, and action. In this case, before saying something that needs to be improved, the person who is writing highlights a positive point and finally makes a call to action, giving clues on how to enhance your performance.

2 – SBI

SBI feedback uses the aspects that will still be presented in this text – situation, behavior, and impact – to create a clear, non-violent, behavior-based speech. At the end, many still induce the employee to seek a possible solution through a question, such as: “what can we do so that it doesn’t happen again?

Thus, SBI is very strategic for organizations that want to build a solid organizational culture for their employees.

3 – 360°

The 360° feedback works, as the name implies, in all directions. That is, employee to employee, manager to employee, and employee to manager. So, everyone involved can evaluate each other, which promotes evolution in all areas.

At first it may be quite exhausting, however, the benefits that it can bring, by merging several points of view, are able to enhance teams’ gains.

4 – Canvas

It can also be used as a limited version of the performance evaluation, because the feedback Canvas focuses on team assessment to identify individual analysis and measure how the team is performing.

Thus, in this model, all team members can express their respective points of view on each colleague’s work, leading to a faster growth in collective performance.

5 – Wall

This type of feedback has got common because it is indeed very democratic. In practice, it enables employees to give feedback focused on the company, within an environment where everyone feels safe.

It can be either in a virtual or physical environment. What cannot be missing is a proper return from the leadership for each feedback given, or it will leave the impression that employees are talking and not being heard.

6 – Kudos

Different from the others, the Kudos feedback consists in presenting only positive comments, recognizing the qualities of the employees. It can be made through tools or even in letters or post-its.

Also known as “Kudo cards”, this technique promotes a culture of appreciation and recognition.

How to give feedback?

Before even writing a feedback, remember that many people may have a resistance to this culture, understanding that it can be something personal, because, remember: many people believe that a negative feedback is something that may lead to dismissal.

In this case, the first point is to ensure that there is a safe space for feedback to be promoted through an organizational culture. In this case, it is super valid to conduct training and conversations, explaining that feedback on actions will be extremely common from that day on.

That said, feedback sessions can begin to take place.

The first point should be to make the context clear. One tip I can give you is that the feedback should always happen as fast as possible. I mean, if the fact that will be reported happened today, let the feedback happen today or tomorrow, ensuring that the context is easily understood.

The second point is to describe behavior. Describe what was the employee’s reaction, whether positive or negative, because this makes it clear to the person how you, the one that is giving a feedback, understood the message.

The third point is to contextualize the impact, since every action causes a reaction. In order to do this, identify the productive and counterproductive factors of the case and bring this into the conversation.

The fourth and final point is to make clear what your expectation is, from the feedback on.

Feedback and Non-Violent Communication

And speaking of offensive feedback, a great solution to work on is the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). This methodology aims to build a logic for evidencing facts without making any judgments. In other words, in this technique, the focus is that the organizational communication is performed with more respect, attention, and empathy.

Thus, feedback can be structured in four steps. They are

1 – Observation: in this step, it is necessary to identify the fact itself. This view must care to map the situation without giving adjectives and focusing only on the fact. For example: “you arrived at 10:34 am on Tuesday”. Note that this observation is different from: “you arrived late”.

2 – Feeling: the second step refers to describing how you (who is writing the feedback) feel as a result of the previous observation. For example: “I felt slighted when you spoke to me yesterday in front of our team”. This helps the other person understand how they affect others around them through empathy.

3 – Need: the third step talks precisely about empathy. In it, it should be clear that what the other person did was not the cause of the feelings. It may even be the stimulus, but never the cause. When a person cuts you off in a presentation to the board, for example, it might make you angry, but it’s because you have a need for consideration and estimated time to make the presentation. So, when the other person interrupts you, they are interrupting your agenda.

4 – Request: the last phase of NVC is the request. In feedback, it is fundamental that the final phase brings a reorientation with performance indicators and deadlines with the objective of not having misinterpretations and to be sure that the actions are clear.

To promote this type of practice, it is interesting to provide Non-Violent Communication training for everyone in the company, so that everyone can be on the same page with it.

How to receive feedback?

People who receive feedback can feel like victims, especially if the message comes from their superior, as not agreeing with it can be taken as an act of disrespect. 

In this case, the HR team should always promote a feedback culture, explaining that when receiving orientations, it should be seen as a motivation factor, and then you should heed the advice received.

If there is no agreement, or the conversation did not go very clearly, ask questions to understand what happened and how it could be different. In this way, feedback begins to fulfill its educational and never punitive role.

In addition, allow and promote the return of the employee within the company. That said, those who received the feedback must and can express how they felt and what they think about the highlighted points, thus ensuring that everyone has a voice.

What is the relationship between performance review and feedback?

The performance review is a powerful tool and increasingly common within companies. This is because it allows the team to build processes focused on the evolution of technical and behavioral skills that the current employees have.

As it provides the leader with a strategic view of the strengths and weaknesses of his subordinates, it is essential that during a performance review the feedback is one of the tools applied, so that the team can understand if they are on the right track.

Thus, through tools focused on talent management, it is also possible to build a timeline of each employee’s development, documenting all conversations and points of improvement applied so far.

How is feedback done? Take this into consideration to build a constructive one

Now that you already have a lot of possibilities to build and plan the feedback culture within your organization, it is important to pay attention to tips for building one:

  • be specific about what happened;
  • avoid mentioning other people’s names, as they are not in the conversation;
  • remember that negative feedback is not punitive or deprecative;
  • give feedback on time (the closest as possible to what happened);
  • avoid giving constructive and negative feedback in public;
  • when providing feedback, make sure you have time for a development conversation.

How to promote more feedback in your company?

1 – One-on-One

One-on-One is another tool that allows continuous feedback. Through it, leaders and subordinates can constantly align subjects for improvement, as it is a conversation focused on the employee’s needs, which can frequently request feedback.

2 – Feedback culture

The feedback culture is a guarantee that there is a thriving and prepared space for all employees (from trainees to leaders) to receive feedback without it being taken personally.

The logic is that there is a continuous feedback cycle, promoting an improvement environment for everyone.

3 – Digital tools

To ensure that there is a safe environment for feedback, it is essential that the company chooses talent management tools capable of promoting this. In the market, there are several tools that are capable of doing it, and one of them is STRATWs One.

It is a complete and intuitive business management software that has an individual performance module, which allows the measurement of each employee’s indicators, even allowing for the definition of a variable remuneration.

Stimulate the feedback culture and the development of high performance teams with STRATWs One.

Discover our digital solution, ask for a free demo.