Being Present During Feedback

During my career in the HR and L&D space, I could not put a figure on how many times I have given 360 degree feedback to managers, often as part of a leadership development programme. The 360 degree process is certainly not a new one. We know the demand for 360 degree surveys is growing and that this process is increasingly a part of our roles as HR and L&D professionals and leaders in business.

Despite my experience to date though, I am always amazed how much I continually learn about myself in these feedback situations. I know I am an extravert and I operate very intuitively. Whilst these are my strengths in giving feedback, they can also be my downfall. I need to always be mindful of how I am in a 360 degree feedback scenario, and adjust my style for the person receiving the feedback.

The top ten golden rules of feedback are always in our minds. Use specific examples, do not judge, choose the environment etc. However it is useful to remind ourselves of those other rules of behaviour that are obvious, yet sometimes easy to overlook. We must not forget that how you say things and how you phrase your message carries more weight than you think. You cannot escape your personality—but you can temper it.

I recently read some ideas around how to ‘BE’ in a debrief:

  • Be present and maintain self-awareness
  • Avoid value laden language, tone, body language and facial expressions
  • Avoid making interpretations
  • Avoid the use of closed and leading questions
  • Use open and probing questions to facilitate discussion of the results
  • Draw on the individuals context
  • Offer suggestions for improvement when invited to do so and you have them to offer
  • Call any mistakes you make and apologise

(Ref: Dr Ben Palmer, Director, Genos International)

These behaviours sound straightforward right? Yet it is not easy to always be this way when immersed in a feedback relationship with an individual. Our role, the purpose of the 360 degree feedback, the emotional response from the individual can all pull and lean us in directions we should not really go. The first point is the key: Be present. If we stick to that then the rest should fall into place.

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