Giving Feedback – When and How to Do it

We all have worked with smart colleagues that have development areas we see.  As humans, we naturally have tendencies to want to help others.   It’s important to know when and how to give them feedback that can help them further succeed.

Question – How to Give Feedback to a Co-worker?

What is the best way to tell a valuable coworker that he/she is talking too much?  This person is smart, dedicated and responsible, but often goes into too much detail about stuff you don’t find important or interesting. He/she lacks skill to make distinction on what is really relevant to say and feels insecure or awkward when there is even a short silence. How to approach this person without hurting her feelings?

Lei’s Response

I think this depends first of all on whether it is your responsibility or not to give him feedback.  Are you her boss? Or did she ask you for feedback?
If she didn’t ask you for feedback, it is not your place to say anything. Even if you’re right and means well, the person may not receive this feedback well from you if unsolicited.  All of us have development needs.  Imagine how you would feel if someone approached you out of the blue and told you where you need to improve.  Would you take it well? Probably not.  In this case the best approach is to mind your own business until this person asks for your help or feedback.
If you are this person’s boss or this person did ask you for feedback then here are five tips on how to do it well
  1. Do it in person in a private setting and not over email or by phone.
  2. Provide balanced feedback, so start with what you think this person does well and then state where this person could improve upon.   Describe how improving upon these areas can help their career progression.
  3. Offer specific examples – tell this person at least one past example where they spoke too much and what they could have said that would make it more effective.
  4. Listen and answer questions – providing feedback is best when there’s a two way dialogue. Get this person room to ask you questions after you provide feedback and see where you need to clarify.
  5. End on a high note and offer support. Restate that you believe in her success and you are there to help if she needs it.

Ultimately if your intention is to help the other person and the person asked you for feedback, then using the above feedback tips will help you come across helpful and supportive.  Best wishes to your career success.

Your Comments:  Can you relate to this story?  Do you have additional questions?  Share your comments and questions below.  Let’s have a discussion!

I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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