Mantle Blog Feedback Right Way April 2021

16 Apr 2021

Are you giving feedback the right way?

Are you giving feedback to your team the right way? Most of us believe that feedback is a crucial process to help improve performance. But the approach you take may mean those constructive suggestions might actually be counterproductive. In this short article, we explain why neuroscience should influence the way you give feedback.

If you asked most leaders how important feedback is, they’d probably say it’s critical. After all, it’s believed to be a key technique to help improve performance. Employees, on the other hand, are likely to complain about a lack of useful feedback in engagement surveys. So, what are we doing wrong?

When emotions get in the way

Many of us have an instinctive and emotionally-charged response to the idea of receiving feedback. We may dread it and mentally ‘bristle’ at the very mention of the word. It can take a moment to shift perspective and engage our logical brain. Some people are so triggered by the idea of feedback that they are unable to engage cognitively at all, making the whole process useless.

How neuroscience can help

Neuroscience goes some way to helping us understand how to use feedback processes more successfully and effectively. It also shows that most of us might be built with a preference for self-direction – we just don’t like being told what to do!

How we perceive the words “I’d like to give you some feedback” can depend on our mental state at that time:

  • In an ‘away’ state, we’re more likely to be defensive and attuned for threats. It’s harder to logically think and reason.
  • In a ‘toward’ state, we’re more likely to process the feedback and be open to adopting the suggestions made.

We have to be in the right mindset for the feedback to be beneficial.

How to get employee buy-in

The good news is there are several simple strategies which are designed to encourage the ideal ‘toward’ state – such as utilising self-directed feedback. After all, we are often our harshest critic.

In our next article, we explain the opportunities of self-directed feedback – and several other practical techniques – that can help you give feedback more effectively and successfully.

Looking for support with your leadership journey? 

At Mantle, we’re committed to working together with our clients to achieve the best possible leadership development outcomes using evidence-based techniques and strategies. Get in touch for an initial, no obligation, consultation here.

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