The Art of Feedback
There are three types of feedback: Appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. All three types of feedback are important, but they are also easily tangled to the point the feedback often does not resonate and can even be destructive. This is because everyone has feedback triggers that impact how we receive feedback. If a person feels the feedback is untrue, wrong, or unhelpful it triggers feelings of anger, resentment, or frustration. If the relationship between the giver and receiver is stressed, the feedback may not be received or even given with the right motives. If the feedback makes us feel insecure it triggers a person to fight for their identity thus affecting the feedback.
The three types of feedback.
Appreciation. The purpose of appreciation is to see, acknowledge, connect, motivate, and thank. When you appreciate someone, you let them know they matter. When your boss tells you how grateful they are to have you on the team, that’s appreciation. Appreciation is about relationships and human connection. It reminds us that we matter and are being recognized for our contributions to the organization. Being seen and understood by others matters. When someone shows appreciation to you, it energizes you and helps you lift your head a little higher. It puts a smile on your face and satisfaction in your heart. Think of a baseball coach who tells one of his players they are glad they are part of the team even before a single game is played. All of us want to know that we are needed and wanted on the team and if that appreciation is shown before their performance is gauged, then it is even more meaningful.
Coaching. The purpose of coaching is to try to help someone increase their knowledge, sharpen skills, improve capabilities, or change. The focus is on helping someone to improve in some way. It might be to be a better communicator, manager, or to refine their skill set. Think of a baseball coach helping his player improve their batting skills. He might advise the player to stand with their feet spread apart, hold their elbow up, and keep their eye on the ball. If they do these three things they will have a better chance of hitting the ball.
Evaluation. The purpose of evaluating is to rank someone against a set of standards, to align expectations, or to inform decision making. Evaluation helps a person know where they stand. Students receive report cards with grades to let them know where they stand. Runners evaluate themselves based on their time to run certain distances. Weight lifters are evaluated on the amount of weight they can lift. Your family evaluates your cooking skills by their comments of approval or their silence. Think of a baseball player’s batting average. Their batting average helps the coach create the batting order that will help the team win. Although every player is important, the best players usually hit in the top of the order. Evaluations are always, in some respect, comparisons to a set of standards whether written or implied. Authors Stone and Heen write “Evaluations align expectations, clarify consequences, and inform decision making” (Stone and Heen, Thanks for the Feedback, p32).
Each form of feedback is necessary and important because they each satisfy a different need that we have. If you are giving feedback, be sure to clarify what type of feedback you are giving. If you are receiving feedback, ask what type of feedback they are providing. By connecting the giver to the receiver in a constructive way, it will help you and your organization to make forward progress.
Source: Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, Penguin Books, NYNY, 2015)