Updated: Aug 9, 2021
How do you get effective feedback from a flawed response?
Now that you have learned some examples of flawed feedback, it’s time to strategize alternative delivery methods to elicit a productive response from your team members. It’s also important to create a game plan, in the event you are in a position where you’re receiving flawed feedback, so you can recognize what is trying to be articulated.
What should constructive feedback delivery look like?
When delivering downward feedback (information being delivered from managers to team members) it’s important to focus on feedback strategies and word choice. Be sure to prepare particular examples pinpointing an ideal result or behavior a team member exhibited. Failure to be specific can result in the team member interpreting the feedback as a personal attack, which can cause the team member to become defensive.
When giving feedback, try to avoid using “You…” because it can be interpreted as pointing blame. Instead, try beginning with “I…” to make the feedback more constructive and deter from blaming the receiver.
Here’s an example of delivering Flawed Feedback vs. Actionable Feedback:
Flawed Feedback: “You are not a team player” → this feedback is vague and attacks the person’s overall behavior; we can expect a defensive response.
Actionable Feedback: “Going forward, I would appreciate it if you continue to keep our project confidential. In our Friday meeting, I was caught off guard when this project was brought up, as our team is not ready to share our research yet” → this feedback does not point blame to the receiver and includes a specific example where the behavior was exhibited.
If the receiver becomes defensive, it’s important to realize this is likely due to the way you are delivering the feedback. As we discussed previously, actionable feedback results in limited defense, more learning, and improved results. After utilizing feedback strategies, if the conversation is still not productive, consider implementing a third party perspective such as HR or a facilitator. This person can help pinpoint where the conversation is no longer proactive.
Until this point, we have focused on how to give feedback. We also need to consider the role of receiving the feedback. As the person receiving feedback, it’s important to understand that if you are feeling attacked, this is likely due to inadequate feedback training on the feedback giver’s end.
When you find yourself receiving this kind of feedback, instead of getting defensive, try to gain a better understanding of where this person is coming from. Ask the person giving feedback for specific examples, be sure to ask clarifying questions, and ask what you can do to show improvement.
Here’s an example of receiving Flawed Feedback:
Manager: “You are not a team player.”
Team Member: “Would you be able to provide an example where I am not a team player?”
Manager: “You do not respect confidentiality.”
Team Member: “My intentions are always to respect confidentiality. Can you provide a specific example where I didn’t do this? If you can’t, would you be willing to have a meeting where we can review confidentiality expectations?”
This team member was able to successfully navigate receiving inadequate feedback from their manager by remaining confident and asking clarifying questions.
While this is no excuse, take into consideration your current work environment. Your manager could be stressed due to a deadline, or may have personal issues affecting their work. If you think this is the case, continue with the strategies listed previously; be sure to remain open to what they are saying, and try to get distinct feedback by asking questions. If your manager continues to execute flawed feedback, consider speaking to them at a different point in time or send an email with follow up questions to the feedback they provided.
Being trained in these strategies is an asset when delivering and receiving good feedback, as well as navigating the issues that can arise with flawed feedback. If you are able to implement feedback training amongst your team, or can encourage your boss to do so, you can expect positive results for the growth and development of your company.