The art of receiving feedback and the importance of regular and positive feedback

Last week we launched our new online coffee corner for business leaders – the VLD-Café – with a discussion on the importance of feedback for the development of people. During that discussion some interesting themes emerged which we want to share here.

It is well known that feedback is key for personal growth especially when it is given on a regular basis. Therefore, leaders need to realise that their feedback on the development of certain skills or competencies of their direct reports really matters. In order to effectively help people, it is important that they have the key development topics of their direct reports sharp in their own mind. They also need to make an effort to give feedback often on those points whenever interacting with direct reports. It should not be limited to giving feedback once a year during appraisal. It should be a common topic in any interaction with direct reports as it helps their growth!

feedbackGenerally, in our approach to leadership development we focus on providing support in giving effective feedback. However, during the session we also discussed the importance to learn how to receive feedback in a constructive way. Increasing one’s skills in receiving feedback results in an increased learning opportunity, in other words, it results in an increased ROF (return on feedback)! The art of receiving feedback has also been well explained by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen in their book: Thanks for the feedback.

At this point it is worthwhile to mention the Losada ratio. This refers to a ratio of 3:1 in the use of positive to negative language in organisations which is having a positive effect on the overall performance of the organisation. Although Losada’s research was later (2013) considered inconclusive in terms if its exact numbers, one should realise that balancing positive and more corrective feedback is also an art on its own: finding the right balance depends on the person concerned and the context. Therefore, don’t forget to give positive feedback as well!

At the end of the session in our VLD-Café we asked for feedback on the experience. It was confirmed that the VLD-Café gives an informal atmosphere that enables open and in depth discussions where the participants build on each other’s ideas and visions. That is exactly what we had in mind with our approach.

We now look forward to our  next VLD-Café session and hope to see you there on 7th July!