“Can do better.” I struggled with this feedback on my performance all through my school life. The foundations that build us, make the core of all of us. It’s hard to change that. I was good at learning. I did what my teacher did. I gave the same advice. This can be better, I would tell all.
Eye roll. Smirk. Shrug. Poker face. Subterfuge. Reactions that I get when I give this feedback.
It’s almost rocket science to find out what ‘better’ can be. There’ll soon be a time when we will be able to read thoughts. Until then, we should work on how to give feedback.
“Reduce by 50%.” I heard him say. I had just shared the printed copy of a press release with the then COO, Hitesh Oberoi of InfoEdge. It took him less than 45 seconds to make a comeback on what I needed to do. I went back and knew exactly what was needed to be done. Doting myself on being able to reduce by exact 50% without changing the meaning, I went back and asked for his feedback again. This time he said, “Reduce 100 more words.” I may be confabulating the number here, but, you get the point. No long lectures on structure and grammar correction. No judgement. Just accurate feedback. Rare skill. That evening I worked till 9pm, and had a terrific number driven English grammar lesson of my life.
It’s hard to sharpen feedback to that extent. That comes with astute corporate upbringing.
Specific is, definitely, terrific. Terrific is derived from the word terrified. And it terrifies the creative us, because, in the world of creativity, it’s hard to quantify it. So, is there a constructive way?
Make it Real
Feedback is a two-way street. Both the receiver and the giver have to play a role in creating constructive feedback. The receiver should be open to feedback. If not, then, ice needs to be broken. Feedback can create difficult work environments, therefore it is important to ease it up and make constructive feedback a habit. Giving feedback, brutally honest, with a clarification that it helps people grow and the company grow, faster, sets most of us free to receive feedback. Also, it should not just be restricted to the wrong, it should highlight the right and vice versa.
To give better feedback, your magic spell is ‘Motto yoku kotaeru?’ To answer every time – what could be a better version of the work at hand, and how can you articulate your feedback to be effective? What can be better?, is the question that should underline the narrative. Staying away from non actionable words, ie, especially adjectives and adverbs is helpful.
Also, ending on a positive note ensures belief.
Word of caution – do not do it yourself. That’s the worst feedback. The best bosses I had helped me make a better version of my work. In the long run, it helped me be a better version of myself.
‘Motto yoku kotaeru’, is Japanese for ‘answer better’. It’s a magic spell to ‘give effective feedback’.
It’s a spell first seen here on Reputation Today, coined for the exclusive use for the readers of this article.