No matter what stage of your career you are at, giving and receiving constructive feedback is part of everyone’s working world. But it’s not something you may necessarily feel comfortable with doing.  

Being open to feedback is part of your career development and growth. Both giving and receiving feedback in the right way takes practice, so today we want to give you all the tips and tricks you need to become more effective in this key area. 

Types of feedback 

There are two common types of feedback:  

  • Motivational Feedback: This type of feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they are doing well, to do it with more determination and creativity. Motivational feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, producing the ‘feel good’ hormone dopamine, leaving the recipient open to taking new direction. 
  • Developmental Feedback: This type of feedback is important when we are heading in the wrong direction, and we need some warning to stop doing something or to start doing something in a different way. 

When it comes to giving motivational feedback, remember to be specific about what you are praising someone for. Without being explicit about what they did right, you’re leaving them free to interpret what they think they’re being praised for, which can lead to more issues and awkwardness down the road. This is why it is important to distinguish between offering someone motivational feedback, and giving them a vague remark such as “good job”. 

For some people, it is hard for them to “undo” old habits, as they’re too ingrained in their everyday behaviors. But the good news is that we can create new ones – and our brains will do the rest! If we simply focus on, and then practice, the new behaviours, they will play more loudly in our brains and, with use, drown out the old until they are rendered obsolete. That’s where development feedback comes into play.  

What our experts say: 

Feedback should always be used as a development tool to improve or maintain someone’s performance. Even though it may not always be easy to give or receive feedback, it is important to remember the intention. When the intention is not there and the message delivered does not include either the context, behavior, impact or next steps, we speak of a negative or positive comment instead of a developmental or motivational feedback. It is important to always be detailed when providing a feedback. Only when receiving a constructive message, one will be able to take it as a gift and use it to improve. 

-    Doeschka De Jong, Talent Development Partner, PageGroup

How to give constructive feedback 

Now we have established what feedback really is, it’s important to have the right skills to enable you to give constructive feedback in the most effective way possible. The CBIN model is a great tool to provide feedback and breaks the discussion down into steps.  

CBIN stands for: Context, Behaviour, Impact and Next Steps. Using this model will give you four steps to help give effective feedback to colleagues.  

  1. Context - Describe the situation. Be specific about when and where it occurred. The more details and facts you include, the better the person will be able to relate to the situation you are describing.  
  2. Behavior - Describe observable behavior - if the behaviour is not included, the person will not know how to change for the better. 
  3. Impact - Describe what you thought or felt in reaction to the behavior. If the impact is not included, people do not know why to change. 
  4. Next steps - Agree on the next steps. Depending on the type of feedback that we deliver, it is recommended to pause between impact and next steps for the feedback to be digested. The pause can take a few seconds, minutes or even a few days if you agree to come back to it and discuss the next steps later. 

What our experts say: 

How can we become better at giving and receiving feedback? There are a number of things that you can do to help but having a clear structure to giving feedback is key. This is for both motivational and developmental feedback. When giving both forms of feedback it is important to be concise about what you have observed and the impact that this has created. Using the CBIN model will help you do this. Often people remember to be clear of the incident that they are referring to and are generally good at being able to recount what they have observed, but fail at the last hurdle of explaining the impact of these actions and then discussing with the individual how we can move this forward.

- Kelly Wilson, Talent Development Manager, PageGrou

Receiving feedback 

When giving feedback, if it is structured well using the CBIN model above, the receiver of the feedback should be able to respond in a calm way.  However, there may be instances where the receiver of the feedback is taken aback and responds in a way which is out of character. This could be the same for when you receive feedback about yourself or your work too.  

This emotional process is often referred to as SARA which stands for: Shock, Anger, Resistance and Acceptance. We find that people need to go through this process before they are able to use the feedback effectively to make improvements in their role.  

  • Shock - Our initial response to feedback may be shock, or denial of the feedback, especially if what we hear is unexpected or contradicts our own views.  
  • Anger - As we realise what the feedback means, shock can turn into anger or anxiety, particularly as we see the implications of it.  
  • Resistance - If feedback indicates the need for change, we may experience a period of resistance. Change can be difficult, or at least uncomfortable for some.  
  • Acceptance - The final step of SARA is acceptance. As we process the feedback, we come to a point of acceptance, which leaves us at a higher place than where we started.  

What’s next?

For more career advice on how to grow in your career, check out our library of career advice articles for expert tips on everything from updating your CV to negoiating a higher salary. 

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, then get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today to discuss.


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