#47 How to give feedback properly with Susana Serrano-Davey

Kevin Appleby and GrowCFO mentor Susana Serrano-Davey consider how to give and receive better feedback on the GrowCFO Show

Kevin Appleby is joined d GrowCFO mentor, Susana Serrano-Davey, to discuss how to give feedback properly.

How do you start preparing a manager to give feedback properly?

Susana explains to you that feedback is a craft that we acquire over time and experience. You will go through a learning curve to reach the point of giving feedback properly.

To prepare a manager for giving appropriate feedback some companies have training in place, however, Susana says that this is a good step but can’t be the only one you take.

If you are a new manager or an experienced manager who’s feedback isn’t landing with their team, Susana tells you to find someone who can be a feedback mentor for you. You should find someone who gives or handles feedback correctly and then share your challenges with them.

How do you give feedback properly in a difficult conversation?

You should react quickly if you see there being an issue with someone’s performance. It will give the person the heads up and a chance to develop before the conversation becomes more difficult.

The choice of language you use is critical when giving feedback. Susana suggests using more neutral words and also to not personalise the feedback. This will help you give the feedback properly and make it less aggressive.

Preparation for the feedback you are going to give is important. You need to think beforehand about what points you are going to make as you are more likely to handle the situation in a balanced way.

The environment where you give your feedback can also impact the way it is received. Susana describes to us how she gives feedback to her team in a more informal setting so it can be more of a conversation and less aggressive.

How can the culture of the organisation impact feedback?

Some organisations can be very hierarchical. There are also some managers who think feedback is telling the person how they are doing with their tasks and what they need to do better.

Others have a more holistic approach. This is where they will focus, not just on the job at hand, but also personal development. They will look more at the person rather than the role.

Elsewhere we can see a culture where it’s scary to ask your boss to help you achieve the improvements they have set you. In feedback, you need to not only tell the person what they need to improve on but also what they need to do to achieve it.

How should you receive feedback?

When receiving feedback you should put all your shortfalls on the table. This will lead you to asking for specific help on these tasks. Managers can provide you with guidance, support and even possibly finding additional resources.

If someone gives you feedback in a broad way, ask for the specifics of what you are being told. This means you can be more focused on the things that really need additional attention.

Susana also expands on being willing to listen when receiving feedback. Take note of what they are telling you. Also, take time to digest what you’re being told so you don’t automatically go into defense mode.

Lastly, you always should accept the feedback. Even if it is harsh you have to look for the gem in the feedback that you need to improve from, and possibly previously didn’t see.

360 degree feedback

Susana likes this feedback and shows you how it can give you a more balanced view. The more directions you look into the more balanced your view will be. Listening to one opinion will leave you with a biased view on what to improve on. Even people far away from you in your role can give you insightful feedback.

Some can find it hard to give their boss development points. However, it is very good practise at giving feedback properly, in a way that doesn’t create discomfort.

All feedback is important including your clients. These can be anyone you have delivered a product to or interacted with. The people you interact with will vary so this means your feedback approach has to also. You can’t put a straight jacket on feedback and it doesn’t always need to be done the way people say it does. Susana tells you to make your feedback method appropriate to who you are giving it to and where you are at.

Collective feedback

Receiving and discussing feedback as a group is great team building but is also an effective team management activity. However, Susana says it does not replace 1-to-1 feedback.

Individual feedback can be more intimate. It gives the manager a chance to demonstrate care for the team member if they come prepared for giving the feedback. They can give you specifics on how you could improve but will give them a chance, also, to see how you are feeling and give them feedback.

3 tips on giving feedback

Susana’s 3 tips when giving feedback are:

  1. Make sure it is balanced. Give positive and development points.
  2. Prepare
  3. Be sensitive with how you deliver it

3 tips on receiving feedback

When receiving feedback, Susana’s 3 tips are:

  1. Listen
  2. Look for the gem, no matter how painful the feedback is
  3. Take the opportunity to ask for whatever it is you need to improve

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