How to give Useful Feedback

Useful feedback can be such an empowering tool, and yet for many - whether giving, or receiving - it seems so daunting and often it's something we don't do very well.

This prompted me to create this list of suggested criteria for useful feedback - I'd love your feedback in the comments!

I believe that to be useful, feedback needs to be:

  • Actionable - can the recipient actually do anything to respond to it?
  • Honest - is it based on truth?
  • Highly Specific - what exactly is it referring to? what situation? what outcome?
  • Timely - is it being given/received soon after the event that prompted it?
  • Objective - is it based on facts, not opinions?
  • Constructive - is it positive?
  • Well-intentioned - is it offered with the intention to help?
  • Portable - can it be used in other situations in the future?
  • Behaviour Based - not identity based
  • Future orientated - 'next time you...' (rather than 'you should have')
  • Tough but not mean
  • Consequence of the behaviour - is it stated?
  • Impact of fixing it - is it stated?
  • Connected to their personal/career goals/growth
  • Prefer positive feedback (‘start/do more of this’) vs negative (‘stop/do less of this’)

If you're offering feedback about a colleague, have a go at using this list to ensure that your feedback is going to be as useful to them as possible.

If you're collecting feedback from colleagues, and the feedback you receive doesn't meet these criteria, why not help the person who gave the feedback turn it into something more useful?

If you're receiving feedback, and it doesn't meet these criteria, either work with the person who gave you the feedback and help them turn it into something more useful or make it clear that you need more detail in order to really respond to it.