The benefits we receive from getting feedback cannot be overstated. Here we take a look at different kinds of feedback and what they mean for your companies.
The benefits we receive from getting feedback cannot be overstated. Here we take a look at different kinds of feedback and what they mean for your companies.
The thing about feedback, is that it's a lot like oxygen: it constantly surrounds us and we’re always taking it in - whether we’re conscious of it or not.
Whether you’re an employer, employee, or freelancer - giving & receiving feedback is a common and unavoidable activity in our work. Knowing the types of feedback that exist and how you can use them to influence your strategies and your decisions is absolutely crucial to the success of your endeavors - both inside and outside of your job. Gaining a clearer understanding of how this works not only allows us to give better feedback to other people - it allows us to turn the feedback we are given into real, tangible action.
In this article, we will dissect the concept of feedback, explore the many different forms that feedback can manifest, the importance of feedback, and discuss some of the ways one can avoid falling into common feedback pitfalls.
When we’re through here, you will leave this page a certified communications expert. First, let's take a look at a few of the reasons why feedback is important.
In basic terms, feedback is any information we receive that is then used for improvement or correction. This very broad definition means that feedback can come to us in many different forms - some of them not as readily apparent as others.
Feedback can be something as simple and benign as “you’re not dressed for rain today”. This is more than just a statement about the current state of the weather - it’s information that can be incorporated into our decision making. When people are given data on the weather, they account for this new information by modifying their behavior - in this case, the change would involve dressing warmer and bringing an umbrella with them. Incorporating feedback into our performance in this case leads to positive results.
First as children, then as students, and well into our employment - every one of us has experienced critique and feedback in our lives. Receiving feedback is a how we grow and change as people. Feedback can be used to educate or dissuade - to promote certain behaviors, or to motivate us to succeed. It allows us to form stronger teams - both in the workplace, and out on the field. Companies regularly utilize the feedback they receive from market forces to adapt their strategies, stay ahead of market trends, and to satisfy the ever-evolving tastes of their consumers.
In order to utilize feedback to its greatest effect, we must first gain a deeper understanding of the different forms of performance feedback we can give and receive.
When looking at how we can turn the feedback we receive into actionable business plans, we must first identify the type of feedback we’re being given.
Positive feedback in communication relates to the recognition of strength, talents, achievements, advantages, and success. An example of positive feedback would be when people - be it a boss, manager, or teacher - commend their subordinate/students for a task well done. Positive feedback is almost universally preferred over negative critique; although positive feedback is generally affirming, this does not mean that positive feedback can not also be constructive or critical.
Constructive feedback is any comments or suggestions that ultimately serve to promote success or positive outcomes in any given scenario. Let’s say some students are struggling to finish their science fair project, and their teacher gives them advice that ultimately allows them to take home a better prize at the fair - this is an example of constructive feedback. It’s important to note that feedback does not have to be positive in order for it to be constructive - and that not all positive feedback is constructive. Negative feedback that is given to someone with the purpose of aiding their success in a project is constructive; giving someone false positive feedback because you’d rather not hurt their feelings is not constructive.
Motivational feedback occurs when you give (or are given) information that serves to promote a certain behavior or to build momentum for reaching a desired outcome. This is something that does not serve to change or critique certain behaviors - rather, it encourages recipients to stay the course, and build confidence in their decision making.
Formal feedback is a category of constructive feedback that occurs when documentation, lengthy project overview, or surveying is utilized for the purposes of giving advice or critique. This type of feedback often occurs in the office, where managers evaluate their employees with regular performance reviews and evaluations. The feedback given from these sorts of evaluations are often rigid, cutting, and not necessarily positive; the formal nature of the criticism often means you’re getting higher-quality feedback, but it can sometimes be hard to take. Many business professionals - team leaders and colleagues alike - struggle with this kind of thing. Regardless, it is a crucial function of business that serves to allow those working together inside of an industry to course-correct and build one another's skill sets.
Informal feedback is often spontaneous and unrefined. An enthusiastic “good job!” or some other encouraging comments may serve to provide affirmation and motivation for yourself, or a fellow employee. While informal feedback is not as useful for the purposes of modifying long-term behavior or making massive design changes as formal feedback would be, it still serves a very important purpose in keeping yourself or your employees content and productive. Everyone enjoys being recognized and appreciated for their work, regardless of the kind of work they do.
External feedback is feedback given to you from outside sources. Compared to internal feedback - feedback you give yourself during or after an activity - external feedback is something that originates from sources other than yourself. An example of external feedback is getting advice from your coach on how to improve your batting stance; internal feedback is a judgement you’re making internally about the quality of your swings, the position of your feet, and how well you’re reading the pitcher’s throws.
Invaluable feedback is exactly what it sounds like - feedback that is immeasurably vital to the success of your product. We can see invaluable feedback in situations where major pharmaceutical manufacturers have to wait to receive approval from the FDA on the efficacy of their latest product; without this feedback, the drug manufacturers would be wholly unable to sell their product in the United States.
After reading about the different types of feedback one can give, it’s clear that not all feedback is created equally. Constructive feedback is of greater value to us than feedback that simply seeks to denigrate, demotivate, or feedback that gives false or empty praise.
Identifying the origin of the feedback you’re being given is equally as important as identifying the kind of feedback being given. It’s vital to evaluate the authority of the individual providing you critique, and to measure that inside of the context the feedback is being given in. A consumer who is upset about some perceived failing in your business model will give you far less considered and measured criticism than a team leader or corporate partner is likely to.
The problems with exchanging constructive feedback most often stem from the existence of one or more barriers in communication; these are things that inhibit almost all other forms of communication.
The seven most common barriers to exchanging feedback are as follows:
These are tangible barriers that prevent two or more individuals from sharing or engaging in the same space. Cubicle walls are often designed to inhibit noise and outside information from interrupting an employee’s workflow - they can also inhibit the employee’s ability to effectively communicate with their peers or employer. Another form of a physical barrier is distance; communicating over the phone is almost never as effective as communicating with someone in person.
The best practice for avoiding this pitfall is to remove as much physical interference from between the two individuals involved in the feedback exchange. Exchanging feedback with those in close proximity to you will is preferable; so search for quiet, enclosed spaces when looking at giving crucial feedback.
Each individual carries with them their own unique perception and understanding of the world that surrounds them. This contrast in perceptions between people is what makes communication necessary in the first place; inconsistencies between two sets of beliefs can create a serious disconnect in communication, and lead to a break down in the work process.
To avoid harmful breakdowns in the discourse, it is vital that you remain courteous and clear when exchanging feedback. Avoid making value judgements, maintain positive and friendly body movements, and regularly challenge your own assumptions. The best way to get the results you're looking for when giving feedback, ensure you’re mindful of your own biases and incomplete perceptions of others. Doing this will not only improve the quality of feedback you give others - it will allow you to accept critique humbly, and with a greater ability to accept your mistakes and move forward.
Humans create important, tangible connections with the groups they associate with. A “culture” can refer to the shared beliefs and behaviors of those living within the same geographical location, like a country; these can also refer to the shared behaviors of those in a club, school, or companies. With the existence of these exclusive congregations comes the idea of “in groups” and “out groups”. In order to be part of the “in group”, you’re expected to conform to some or all aspects of their behavior and belief systems. The existence of these elements is something that can seriously inhibit the effectiveness of feedback exchange - both between people inside the group and in their interactions with outside actors.
To create an environment that fosters positive feedback exchange in spite of cultural differences, an effort must be made to ensure clear accommodation of differing beliefs. Recent developments in business literature proves that leveraging employee diversity in a positive way creates a more productive place to work. Drawing from the unique and varied experiences offered by your employees or colleagues is a fantastic tool for efficient problem solving, and will overall foster a productive work environment.
Emotions are incredibly powerful motivators, and their impact on how we’re able to handle critique. Emotional barriers to effective feedback exchange often stem from feelings of fear, distrust, doubt, and suspicion. When we are left feeling vulnerable from a disconnect in the feedback we receive, we are less likely to adapt that feedback into our behavioral patterns.
To avoid letting emotional interference impact the exchange of effective feedback, you must pay special attention to the way you both deliver and receive feedback. When giving feedback, it is pertinent to avoid saying things that can be perceived as cruel, unnecessary, or unjust; this means giving positive - or at the very least, constructive - feedback whenever possible. Focus on hard facts, present your case equitably, and allow the person you’re giving feedback to ample opportunity to share their thoughts in kind.
When receiving feedback ourselves, it is important that we stay mindful of our own imperfections and failings. Suppressing our ego when processing criticism allows us to accurately assess the merits of the feedback being given. Sometimes, repressing our emotions can seem impossible. In cases where we experience strong, negative emotional reactions to feedback, it is vital that we step back and find some method for relaxing ourselves. Once we’ve gathered ourselves, we can then take a logical and reasoned approach to rectifying any perceived issues with the feedback we’ve been given.
The most common and obvious form of linguistic barriers to imparting information occurs when two people try to communicate without the use of a common tongue - but this is far from the only kind of barrier out there. Another extremely common and often ignored barrier pertains to the use of buzz-words and jargon. The use of obscure terminology in the feedback exchange process excludes people who are not privy to this style of communicating or perhaps the definition of the terms themselves from effectively absorbing this information. When we give feedback in another dialect, it is of great importance that we ensure we are confident in our translations and remain sensitive to differences in cultural beliefs.
When examining both the male and female brain, we find there are innate and distinct differences in the ways that speech is generated in the mind. Linguists have identified commonalities in the ways that the respective genders utilize vocabulary, the average number of words they speak per day, and the different sections of the brain that are activated during speech generation. While 21st century work spaces are more equal and equitable than they’ve ever been, issues stemming from a disconnect in cross-gender communicating still occurs on a daily basis.
In order to communicate in an equitable and fair manner, it is vital that you always view your counterpart in the feedback exchange process as an autonomous individual - one who deserves a basic level of decency and respect paid to them. Avoid adapting stereotypes into your world-view, and aim for clarity in your communication. If you’re unsure about the motivations behind the criticism you’re receiving, ask clarifying questions. Avoid common mistakes like creating assumptions out of the gaps in your knowledge; instead listen to exactly what is being said to you. These listening tips will help you to communicate more effectively in both your work and home life.
Interpersonal barriers refer to any personal traits or failings that prevent us from communicating effectively. These barriers often create distance between those attempting to communicate with one another, inhibiting the methods with which information is both given and received. Anxiety, personal stresses, vices, and poor body posture all play a role in preventing us from getting info across effectively.
To best overcome these deeply intimate obstacles, we can utilize similar speaking patterns and behavioral techniques to the ones we use to overcome emotional and perceptual barriers. Speaking with clear, affirmative voice aids to promote your ideas in a way that makes others want to absorb your messaging. Being an active, attentive listener will make those around you feel as though you are genuinely invested in what they have to say; if they know you care about their insights and experiences, they will likely pay a similar level of consideration to what you have to say. Feedback given calmly and without unnecessary emotion will often be received similarly.
Feedback is present in every relationship we maintain. Whether we’re working with our group members to meet a deadline, or getting health tips from our fitness trainers - we’re constantly exchanging feedback.
Click here to learn about what kind of measurement system we can use to gather feedback on our designs.
Alright - we’ve covered a hefty bit of information here. If you haven’t been taking notes, and you’re concerned about being able to remember all of the dense information we’ve covered here - worry no longer.
We’ve condensed all of the information we’ve covered thus far into the five benefits that receiving consumer feedback provides.
So, why is feedback important?
Feedback at its basic form is simply communication of new information. By utilizing these new ideas and outlooks that are shared with us through effective feedback, we are able to make logically-sound decisions. In seeking new perspectives on our designs and projects, we are ensuring that our ideas are not tainted by bias or lack of information.
Communication is the key to maintaining any relationship - be it in your personal life, your workplace, your relationships with your team members, or your relationship with yourself. By staying open to new ideas, we open ourselves to new perspectives. Maintaining an open, healthy dialogue with our consumers allows us to better meet their needs and strengthen their loyalty to our brand. Consumers who can have their voices heard through surveys or customer support lines are more likely to continue maintaining a relationship with your company.
Everyone likes to be recognized for their work. Outside of financial incentives, providing positive, constructive feedback is one of the best activities an employer can use to motivate their employees. Feedback can not only be used to reinforce behaviors; it can also serve to modify behavior in a way that benefits both employee and supervisor. Employees will feel appreciated and respected, and will often increase their skill in their respective fields of expertise; managers will reap the rewards of having a highly-motivated, skilled, and loyal team.
A ship captain can not navigate a storm in the dark. If we are not receiving feedback on our product, we will never truly know if what we’re creating is meeting the needs of our consumers. By utilizing the feedback given to us by market forces - our customers, our suppliers, the media, or the government - we are able to increase our chances of success in the marketplace. Staying abreast of changing market trends and evolution in consumer taste allows us to stay right where we want to be - firmly ahead of the competition.
Feedback is all around us. We give it to our employees when we advise them on a project. We’re given it when our customers review our organization, our practices and the quality of our product. We give it to our spouses when we tell them just how killer those new jeans look on them; and we’re constantly giving ourselves feedback on our decision making. We are processing information on a subconscious level with every moment that we live and breathe. It cannot be avoided. And so it’s best to learn how to embrace what we’re given, focus on our goals, and use the feedback to get a sense of how we can better ourselves.
The best and most affordable way business leaders can generate quality, reliable consumer feedback is with consumer response surveys. A simple survey could be all that stands between your company and the renewed success of it’s online marketing efforts.
With Helpfull’s open-ended survey design, users can design visually-striking, multi-question surveys for any occasion!
Helpfull’s community of panelists are ready and waiting to give you concise, constructive feedback on any subject: branding, art, product development, photography, interior design, travel advice - even advice on how you should dye your hair. The feedback that Helpfull generates is displayed in clear, visually distinguishable comments right there on the survey menu page. Whether you’re choosing from either pre-formatted question templates or designing the survey from scratch, you’re only a few button presses away from getting hundreds of unique responses from real consumer panelists.
The responses gathered by Helpfull surveys display in real time, allowing you to instantly incorporate the feedback you receive into your development processes.
An intuitive user-interface, coupled with technology able to gather hundreds of consumer responses in just minutes, are just a few of the features that make Helpfull the ultimate tool for any artist, designer, marketer, or inquisitive spirit.
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