Feedback is the most powerful (and not to mention the cheapest) tool that we can all use. However, a lot of people try to avoid it, fearing that they will hear something negative; but that’s so much worse than hearing the feedback itself. In fact, the most effective leaders actively seek feedback to enhance their performance!
What is feedback?
Google’s definition of feedback is ‘Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement‘. In simpler terms, feedback is information (sometimes involving criticism) given from one person to another, reacting to an action or behaviour. It can come in different forms; for example, customer feedback is the customer’s response to a company about a product/service, but employee performance feedback is the manager’s feedback to their employees about their work.
Why is it so important?
Both positive and negative feedback is helpful, as long as it is constructive. Sometimes feedback is mistaken for criticism, when in fact the negative criticism is actually constructive criticism. In the majority of cases, it’s the most important part of the feedback. Constructive feedback helps learners to maximise their potential at throughout their training. It has potential to raise strengths, highlight areas for improvement, and identifies actions to be taken to improve performance. The idea of feedback is so you can figure out whether you should:
- Keep doing what you are doing
- Change what you are doing, or
- Stop what you are doing
For the feedback to be effective, there needs to be a plan of action with a clear and distinct goal. It doesn’t matter whether the feedback has been given formally or informally. It can be given as part of a written assessment, or just in day-to-day conversations between assessors and their learners. Regardless, it should be used to make better-informed choices and improve what you are doing. This in itself is what makes feedback important; you should always want to improve yourself, but how can you do that if you don’t have an outside perspective?
Similarly, your learner may think their delivery of some criteria was absolutely spot on; however, it turns out you find they have some areas for improvement. How are they supposed to know that if you don’t give them feedback? It’s difficult to be self-aware without feedback from others. Don’t forget about asking for feedback yourself. It’s very common in educational sectors for performance to suffer due to not receiving feedback!
So, feedback is most valuable when it has been received, understood and acted upon. Through communications with yourself and your learner, they will fully understand the best way to develop their learning.