The importance of timing and environment in feedback delivery

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, but like any meal, it's best enjoyed when served at the right time and in the right place

The importance of timing and environment in feedback delivery

As someone on a fitness journey, I’ve experienced firsthand how feedback, when delivered correctly, can be a valuable asset to our growth and development.

For most of my life, I have been relatively sedentary. However, over the past few years, I’ve committed to daily exercise, and most of my sessions involve following a class lead. In these classes, I’ve often found myself emulating the instructor’s movements, striving to mirror their form and technique as closely as possible.

But it wasn’t until a recent experience that I truly grasped the importance of feedback delivery. During a group session, right in the middle of the class, another participant took it upon themselves to provide me with feedback on my squatting technique, sharing with me – and the rest of the class – that I was doing it wrong. They kindly demonstrated the proper form and technique, all in front of everyone.

Now, I must emphasise that I am genuinely appreciative of any help to improve, and I understand the value of constructive feedback. However, I was taken aback and honestly embarrassed by the public nature of the feedback. This unexpected encounter knocked me off my stride, and I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious for the remainder of the session.

This incident highlights a crucial aspect of feedback delivery that extends beyond the fitness world. It reminds us that, as leaders, it is our responsibility to provide feedback to help our team members grow and progress. But this process should be approached with care and consideration. If not done correctly, feedback can have the opposite effect, potentially hindering development rather than fostering it.

To ensure that feedback is a helpful tool for development rather than a source of discomfort, here are five top tips for leaders when delivering feedback to their team members:

Choose the right time and place

Timing and environment matter. Find a suitable, private setting for delivering feedback. It’s important to create a safe and comfortable space where the recipient can be open to receiving input.

Be specific

General or vague feedback can lead to confusion. Provide concrete examples and specifics about the behaviour or performance you are addressing. This clarity will help the individual understand what needs improvement.

Balance Criticism with Praise: While constructive feedback is essential, also acknowledge what the individual is doing well. Recognising strengths can motivate them to work on areas that require improvement.

Encourage two-way communication

Feedback should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Encourage your team members to share their perspectives, ask questions, and discuss their concerns.

Focus on solutions

Instead of dwelling solely on the problem, work collaboratively on finding solutions. This approach makes the feedback process more productive and empowering.

In conclusion, feedback is indeed a powerful tool for growth and development, but its effectiveness hinges on how and where it is delivered. The incident from my fitness journey serves as a valuable reminder that feedback, no matter how well-intentioned, can sometimes be embarrassing and counterproductive if not carefully administered. As leaders, we can promote growth and progression in our teams by following these five essential tips for feedback delivery, creating an environment where champions can truly flourish.

Alison Edgar MBE
Alison Edgar MBE

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