Why Feedback Does Not Work

People often tell me that when they give feedback it just does not work the way they hope. Either the feedback is ignored, or it causes a while load of justifications, excuses and rationales leading to a heated debate and a deterioration in the relationship.

There are several reasons why feedback might not have the desired affect and cause more problems than it cures. By far the most common reason for feedback failure is that the relationship is not right. We only accept and act on feedback when it comes from someone we trust and respect.  Giving feedback to someone who does not trust and respect you is not only a waste of breathe – it is likely to make the situation, certainly your relationship, worse.

Before you can give effective feedback, you have to earn the right (and this is not about just being the boss).  As well as trust and respect it is important that the receiver of the feedback knows that your motivation for offering feedback is that you want them to suceed in doing a great job.  They have to know that you are not putting them down or playing power games – you are sincerely trying to help them do things well.

So the next time you have an opportunity to give feedback – ask yourself – does this person trust and respect me enough to value my feedback?

Secondly ask yourself whether your motivation to give feedback is to help them to get better at their job?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you are better off keeping the feedback to yourself.  Instead find a way to work on your relationship so that in future your  feedback will be welcomed and acted upon.