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9 Ways To Give Great And Positive Feedback

9 Ways To Give Great And Positive Feedback

No matter what level you’re at in a company, you’re inevitably going to need to provide feedback sooner or later. Whether it’s your boss, coworkers, or subordinates, someone’s going to slack or make a mistake. When that time comes, you can give feedback confidently with these nine tips.

1. Provide Warning

    No matter how good your intentions, some people just don’t respond well to criticism. Be mindful of this. It’s always best to ask prior to providing feedback. This will mentally prepare the other person for any criticism they’re about to receive. Take them aside to avoid embarrassing them in front of other people, which will immediately put them on the defensive.

    2. Be Timely

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      If you’ve ever housebroken a pet, you’re aware feedback has to be provided immediately. If you wait too long to explain to someone they’re doing something wrong, you’ll be fighting a habit rather than a mistake. Habits are hard to break, so don’t delay in correcting unproductive behaviors.

      3. Focus on Processes

        Never point out flaws in a person – this will be taken as a personal attack. The reason people believe in concepts like luck and fate is because they have trouble internalizing mistakes. You’re not about to change this, no matter how much of a people person you think you are. Instead, point out a flawed process they’re following. This allows them the out of not knowing the correct procedure and making a change.

        4. Be Straightforward

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          Don’t dance around a subject. People prefer a direct criticism (“Your breath stinks.”) over a veiled one (“Have you tried this new gum?”). You may think you’re being polite, but you’re just making things worse. Don’t waste people’s time beating around the bush; come out and say specifically what was done wrong.

          5. Explain the Why

            Don’t just tell someone to start doing something another way – that won’t stick. Explain to them how their incorrect procedure affects the full process. Let them know why they need to change what they’re doing. Hearing that auditors are looking for certain things or that more money can be made by doing things a certain way makes more of an impact than just telling them “because I said so.”

            6. Suggest Alternatives

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              There’s always more than one way to do things. Don’t just tell someone the way they’re doing things won’t work – give them options for different ways that will work. Find a compromise between what they’re doing and what you want them to do. It helps to prepare what you want to say in advance so you don’t find yourself stuck.

              7. Be Gracious

                Always focus on the positives. For every negative point you have to cover with the person, counter it by mentioning something positive. Just make sure you keep a 1:1 ratio or you run the risk of your actual criticism being lost. People only remember at most 70% of what they hear, so balancing the positive and negative is essential to ensure you get your point across without sugarcoating it or being mean.

                8. Avoid Shaming or Threatening

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                  The more you rule with an iron fist, the more likely people are to rebel. Look at the world around you: oppressed people always rise against their rulers, and those dictators have weapons. If you’re working in a cubicle, you’re certainly not going to scare anyone. Instead you’ll likely end up in trouble yourself. Treat people with respect, and they’ll respect you back. Treat them like they’re beneath you, and they’ll either leave or work against you.

                  9. Solicit Feedback

                    Feedback is a two-way street. When giving feedback, encourage feedback on how you’re doing. You may learn something new about yourself, or you may learn the person’s true feelings. By encouraging open communication, you’re leaving room for everyone to improve, which is great for business in the long run.

                    Featured photo credit: DT via pixabay.com

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                    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                    What is the productivity paradox?

                    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                    He wrote in his conclusion:

                    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                    How do we measure productivity anyway?

                    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                    The paradox and the recession

                    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                    Looking forward

                    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                    Reference

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