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Reading through the “Emotional Intelligence” book by Daniel Goldman, I came across advice from Mr. Levinson on very important subject in any workplace. If you want to teach your (co)workers anything, you need to master the art of proper feedback, built of good critique and praise. Feedback is what makes a system whole – and your workplace is a system, even if what you daily do is different every day. Therefore if you want your system to work better, feedback is one of the main topics you can improve. Here are five points (based on Levinson; somewhat changed by me) how to do it:

1. Be Specific – this applies to critique and praise. If you do that, make sure that you address specific issue and avoid generalisation. That way someone will know what exactly needs to be changed or what should be repeated. Of course you need to set yourself an event threshold when to address your co-worker: not everything should qualify for direct address.

2. Offer a Solution (critique) or a Reason (praise) – if you critique someone, tell him what needs to be done to repair or avoid the error in the future. If you praise someone, tell him why do you think his actions were worthy that praise. Giving reason set in perspective helps to understand positive and negative feedback better.

3. Be Present – do it personally. Avoid phone calls, emails etc. unless you absolutely have to use them. Takes guts – but if you have higher aspirations, you must learn to face your duties.

4. Be on Time – feedback should be instantaneous. If action is worthy your personal attention, it is worthy doing it right after it happened, when it is still fresh in minds of people addressed by you. Whole impact of intended lesson will be gone if you will do it too late. Avoid doing it too early though as well, as that can be equally damaging.

5. Be Human – which means being sensitive, professional in avoiding exercising too much pressure. State what you want as per above and walk away. Don’t overdo it.

Good Luck 🙂

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Source: “Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goldman, Bantam Books, 1996, p. 175 and “Feedback to Subordinates”  Addendum to the Levinson Letter, Harry Levinson, Levinson Institute, Waltham, MA (1992).

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