I love Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Effective feedback helps us to break that cycle and do things differently.

What I hadn't recognised until recently was how many of the tips, hints and advice around this aspect of work life apply equally well whether you are the giver or the (hopefully willing) recipient of feedback. This highlights a key point: giving and receiving feedback is a conversation. Even better, it's part of a series of conversations which occur in the broader context of an ongoing professional relationship.

Tips I shared with colleagues as part of their structured professional development program that I've designed and am implementing included:

  • Don’t take it personally, feedback is about what you have done not who you are.
  • Take some deep breaths
  • Assume the other person has good intentions
  • Focus on behaviours and be specific
  • Really listen to understand the other person’s perspective
  • Find ways to work together
  • Say what you have learned and what you will do as a result
  • Admit responsibility (and accept praise!)
  • Use the feedback to clarify standards, goals and expectations
  • Role model the behaviours you want to see in others.

I'd appreciate some feedback! What have you found particularly useful in these sorts of conversations?