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Constructive Feedback

Five tips for giving constructive feedback that will help your activities business thrive

February 13, 2021

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Feedback in business can be simultaneously awkward and toxic. That’s why it’s important to get the balance right. Constructive feedback can be a great way of getting the best out of your team.

Every part of your business from operations to IT can benefit from constructive feedback. Consistent voluntary feedback within your team can zero-in on individuals and address chunky inflexible processes to reduce stress and admin time for everyone.

The activities industry is unique because positive and negative feedback are built in.

How can you then, take coaching feedback and make it work for your activities business?

Feedback systems should be supportive systems

Think of it as quality assurance on the conveyor belt of your business. Except each staff member is an individual, if they succeed, your business succeeds.

Promote a positive culture of feedback so it becomes regular, structured and normal for your team to engage in it. Constructive feedback has to be consistent if it is to change anything.

Monitoring changes should not be intrusive, but a reminder so it becomes your teams’ second nature. When it comes to bulk processes that are admin-heavy, your issue might be general human error.

Consider upgrading your systems to a cloud-based organisational platform to reduce these errors. Automation is a great way to reduce the types of mistakes that are unavoidable human error. Let machines do machines work.

Use your experience of sports coaching

Uniquely enough, feedback is built into the activities industry. Whether it’s making a session better to better fit children’s needs or providing them with your wealth of insight to spur them on to professional heights, feedback is key.

Whilst this is true, constructive feedback might not be so common. British Gymnastics has come under fire for complaints made against a coach in 2020 and who could forget the infamous Ferguson boot incident after 2003 FA Cup loss to Arsenal?

Good coaches can succeed with long-term constructive feedback, as long as they couple the negative with the positive. In studies of highly athletic children, keeping positives along with the negatives increased their confidence and helped them improve faster.

Whether you’re coaching the highly engaged or not, your feedback should always be fit for purpose.

Make sure you’re the right person to give feedback

Don’t jump into feedback when there’s already a chain of command. Step back and think: Is the issue big or small enough for me to weigh in? Is this piece of feedback worth your working relationship with that person?

And do I have the tools to make the criticism constructive? It’s like a parent doubling down on the worse points of a game or school report on the ride home. You are less likely to get the change in behaviour you need if the feedback is not approached in the right way by the right person.

Don’t keep changes that affect your whole team in one department either. It’s an outdated concept to keep changes in IT, strictly within the IT department. If your whole team is using a system, then your whole team needs to collaborate to make it better.

Don’t end up haemorrhaging time, energy and money trawling through your IT system by yourself, use team feedback to improve your business processes.

One part negativity and five parts positivity

Research into the psychology of feedback shows that it takes five positives to make up for just one. Nobody wants to be reminded that they aren’t absolutely flawless in their work, just one negative comment can slowly chip away at your confidence.

For most, we’ll torture ourselves with the memory, which will incur error after error. Constructive feedback invests your energy in helping another person improve. If one style of feedback isn’t focussed or isn’t yielding results, then you need to consider another avenue.

Shore up your positives and you’ll reduce your negatives.

Put the emphasis on results

Your focus has to be on results; therefore, your feedback needs to be specific and detailed. You need to detail the outcome and put together the steps that get them to that outcome.

Will this piece of feedback eliminate errors? Speed up business processes? Streamline communications? What would that person and the rest of the team benefit by acting on that feedback?

Without an actual solution or even a potential solution, your feedback is just mean-spirited and counterproductive. Don’t make the mistake of making this feedback a long list of misdemeanours.

Keep it focussed in one area with a clear plan to get better.

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