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  • Writer's pictureHouria Bellatif

"Crafting Actionable Feedback: Sending Ripples of Change Across Your Sphere"

In our dynamic communal world, one undeniable truth stands out: Feedback and influence are the twin engines that propel our growth and transformation. Whether you're a seasoned leader, an emerging professional, or an individual contributor in organizations or family and friends' circles, understanding the dynamics of feedback and harnessing the power of influence can be the keys to unlocking many doors.


The Crucial Role of Feedback

Feedback isn't confined to organizations; it's a vital asset for every person in both personal and professional domains. It operates as a reflective mirror, revealing our strengths and highlighting avenues for enhancement, thus nurturing our growth. This process transcends titles and roles, enriching our journeys and driving the progress of our organizations. Feedback serves as the compass that guides our self-improvement journey, weaving a dynamic view of our personal and professional evolutions.


A path to Actionable Improvements

Constructive feedback is an art that requires finesse and tact. It's insufficient to say, "Great job!" or "Needs improvement." Well-crafted feedback zeroes in on the specific actions, behaviors, or outcomes that deserve praise or attention. Imagine you're discussing a team member's presentation, and instead of merely saying, "You did well," you could say, "Your presentation demonstrated your ability to engage the audience through anecdotes, creating an interactive experience. The flow of content highlighted your preparation, which translated into keeping the audience captivated." 

Yet, specificity alone isn't enough—it must be the bridge to action. Feedback should be actionable, a roadmap that guides the recipient towards improvement. Rather than leaving them with a puzzle, could you provide them with clear steps? Think of it as a treasure map leading them to the hidden gems of growth. "To elevate your presentation even further, consider incorporating more visuals to complement your storytelling; this could enhance the visual impact and ensure your key points are heard and seen."

So, as you offer your feedback, remember that you're not just a messenger—you're an active participant in shaping personal and professional evolution. Your message extends beyond words; it touches hearts, might trigger mind shifts and even fuel desire and motivation for improvement.


Feedback is a Two-Way Street

While providing feedback requires finesse and empathy, receiving it demands humility and an open mindset. As you accept feedback, you're journeying into corners of your "self" you may have overlooked and discovering hidden facets in the shadows.

Embracing feedback as a gift changes the narrative entirely. Rather than perceiving it as criticism that pokes at vulnerabilities, you approach it as a flashlight illuminating paths that lead to self-discovery. Feedback becomes the lens through which you view your actions and behaviors from a fresh perspective. Feedback exposes areas for growth that were previously hidden, allowing you to confront them head-on. Embracing feedback isn't an act of surrender; it's an act of empowerment. 


What Gets in The Way? 

Whether giving or receiving feedback, various factors can hinder that act. The fear of causing emotional discomfort or damaging relationships casts a shadow over the intention to provide constructive feedback. The delicate balance between candor and kindness can sometimes tip askew, leading to apprehension. Also, trust, the glue that binds teams, can be fragile. In an environment lacking trust, feedback can quickly become misinterpreted, leading to defensiveness and further communication barriers.

Additionally, effective communication can sometimes pose a challenge. Being able to express our ideas clearly and with empathy takes a certain level of skill that is not always common. The exchange of words, tone, and body language can be complex, and any misstep may result in misunderstandings, particularly in teams that are cross-cultural and diverse, where differences in communication styles can make things even more difficult.

Overcoming these obstacles requires a conscious effort to cultivate an environment of psychological safety. So think about:

  • Encouraging open communication, where ideas and concerns flow freely, breaks down the walls of resistance and fosters an atmosphere of mutual respect.

  • Investing in continuous skill development is another pivotal step. Individuals can enhance their feedback delivery techniques. Workshops on communication, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution can equip individuals with the tools to navigate feedback conversations with finesse.

  • Seeking Feedback on your Feedback—ironically, meta-feedback—can be a potent way to refine your approach.


Enter the "Feedforward," a Paradigm shift:

While most of what we have covered so far is based on reflection on actions that have taken place in the past, there is a transformative concept known as "feedforward" that has emerged as a catalyst for change. Coined by Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned executive coach and leadership thinker, feedforward takes a unique approach by focusing on future possibilities rather than dwelling on past actions. Introduced in the early 2000s, this concept offers a refreshing departure from traditional feedback methodologies.

While feedback often delves into retrospective analysis, feedforward propels us into a realm of proactive development. It invites individuals to envision their future selves, shedding the weight of past mistakes and embracing a canvas of potential. In practical terms, imagine this scenario:

You want to help someone on your team develop his public speaking skills proactively. Instead of focusing on the past mistakes or mishaps in prior presentations, you could envision a dialogue that goes like this:

"Joe, I believe you have tremendous potential as a public speaker, and I want to help you reach that potential. Let's look ahead and think about your future presentations. 

  • What specific skills or aspects of public speaking do you want to improve? 

  • Is it about engaging the audience, your confidence, or structuring your content?

  • Imagine a successful presentation where you excel in these areas. What steps can you take to make that happen?"

Feedforward taps into the power of aspiration by emphasizing suggestions and insights that pave the way for enhanced performance and behavior, ultimately fostering a culture of continuous growth and improvement.

The Synergy of Feedback & Influence:

Feedback and influence share a symbiotic relationship that extends far beyond the confines of mere communication. Providing thoughtful feedback isn't just a gesture; it's a cornerstone of growth. As you traverse the landscape of Feedback, remember that influence isn't about control or dominance—it's about empowerment. It's the ability to listen, not just to the spoken words, but to the nuances beneath them. It's the knack for understanding the person behind the role and the motivations behind the actions. As you contribute to others' journeys, you become a guidepost pointing towards growth, a solid contributor to collective betterment. 

By mastering the art of effective feedback, embracing the potential of feedforward, and nurturing the power of influence, you will thrive as an individual and ignite a ripple effect of positive change throughout your organization. Remember, your growth journey is a shared voyage—one where each step forward amplifies the collective strength of your immediate entourage at home and work. So, embrace feedback with an open heart and wield your influence purposefully.

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