A business can flourish when they offer an open and inclusive culture, and giving the right kind of feedback is a big part of that. In this blog, we have taken a look at how honest feedback in the workplace can have a huge impact on employees, employers and the business as a whole.
Why People Are Hesitant to Give Feedback
There is no denying the benefits of honest feedback, but a lot of people shy away from offering it. Whether it’s an employer to an employee, or a recruitment agency to a candidate, it’s not uncommon for someone to avoid offering honest feedback. So, why is this?
Often, it’s because they feel uncomfortable about criticism, which is understandable to a certain degree. Criticism is commonly seen as something negative, rather than constructive guidance and feedback, and no one wants to be outrightly negative about someone else’s abilities at work. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or make someone feel bad about themselves, and so they avoid honesty and sugarcoat things instead. They might also shy away from offering honest feedback because they are scared of it being ignored, which can cause awkwardness. They don’t want to comment on something, only to have that person not take it on board. This is why offering honest feedback is key, both in and out of the workplace.
Feedback in the Workplace
You can get a lot back when you have an open, honest and collaborative business, which is why encouraging honest feedback is key. It’s not simply a way to direct and improve on someone else’s actions, it's mutually beneficial, and there’s not a business out there that doesn’t want that. A workplace where people feel like they can speak their opinion and have a positive influence is an enjoyable and supportive place to work.
However, there are some things that hold people back. One major hurdle to giving honest feedback in the workplace is a poorly defined company culture. If a workplace is lacking a strong culture, and strong foundations are not in place, people are likely to feel hesitant about offering feedback. It makes giving feedback awkward, inconvenient and unstructured. A rigid company hierarchy can also be a hindrance, as people don’t feel comfortable providing feedback to those above them. After all, no one wants to run the risk of being penalised or treated unfairly because they have dared to criticise a manager. If the hierarchy is more fluid, it’s a lot easier for feedback to be passed from one person to another.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to ensure that you are giving the right kind of feedback in the workplace.
Give Specific Feedback - A lot of people make the mistake of being too vague with their feedback, which makes it difficult for someone to benefit from what has been said. Instead of being general, ensure that your feedback is detailed and direct. This makes it a lot easier for someone to take what has been said on board, and then make the necessary changes. This can be done by making clear and concise points.
Start with a Positive - Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback, so start by telling someone what they have done well. People tend to focus on negative feedback and take it to heart, but starting with something positive can help to soften the blow. It’s a lot easier to be receptive to feedback if you know what you have done well. So, focus on the positive, and sandwich the negative between compliments.
Make Suggestions - If you are giving someone negative feedback, make sure to offer actionable advice on how they could improve things going forward. Criticising a piece of work is one thing, but this doesn’t provide the individual with any direction of what they should do differently in the future. Give pointers and make sure that they know what to do.
Give Feedback Face to Face - Though giving feedback via email or an online messaging system is usually the easiest way, there’s always a chance of someone misinterpreting what has been said. You might have meant to offer constructive feedback, but the message could come across as negative and critical. Everyone has been in a situation where they haven’t known how to take a text message or an email, which shows just how easy it is for feedback to be taken the wrong way. Plus, providing feedback face to face gives them the chance to ask questions.
We want your feedback too
At Sewell Wallis, we are keen to receive service level feedback. We want to know the details of why you have been happy with our service, as well as if there’s anything we can do to improve. By telling us if there are any areas of improvement, we know how we can be better next time and improve our service from beginning to end. We also provide interview feedback, giving detailed responses for the candidates you offer a role to, and also those that you don’t. This helps us to grow our knowledge of team business and cultural fit, ensuring that we are continually better matching clients and candidates. It also benefits individual candidates, as feedback can help them to recognise what they did well, and where they could have performed better.