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The Value Proposition of Giving Informal Feedback in the Workplace

Informal feedback

Feedback is critical not only for professional development but also adds great value personally. Let’s first be clear about what I really mean by feedback in the workplace. I am Not talking about the two times a year feedback that a manager fills out, that you and your manager review, sign on the dotted line, and are done. Wait… “dotted” sounds so old school! The line is no longer dotted. I just gave myself feedback.

I am talking about informal everyday feedback such as, “hey your zipper is unzipped.” Or “hey, I didn’t understand what you were trying to convey during that meeting.” There is a certain level of trust that has been established to broach this feedback. There are also two acts of feedback: giving and/or receiving. In this segment, I will focus on giving feedback. What I have found when coaching with leaders is that leaders are asking how they can give better feedback. What does better mean? Better means how can their feedback be useful and help people to actually do better at their job. Better also means giving feedback more often. Better also means that trust has been established so that the feedback is welcomed. Here are things to remember in informal feedback:

  • Delivered in real-time

  • Small bites of information (1 feedback)

  • Be intentional

  • Acknowledge strengths

  • Offer support

  • Honest and constructive

  • Creating regularity

  • Difficult feedback needs more time to prepare

  • Be thoughtful

  • Remember that it takes time

  • Don’t assume you have the answers

  • Ask for permission

  • Remember that human pays close attention to criticisms

Adding informal feedback into your everyday touchpoints can be very helpful. The more you give feedback the more you get better at it if you are paying careful attention each time that you do give feedback. The other important component is to ask for feedback in the way you are providing feedback. This part seems to be a bit difficult for leaders when I bring this up. It sounds as if I am asking them to put themselves at risk of being criticized. What I mean is to be curious about how the feedback landed. The intention of feedback is supposed to help the other person, so check-in and be curious. Questions that you may want to ask:

  • “Was this helpful?”

  • “I am curious, how did that land for you?”

  • “Was there something else you wanted to hear that I didn’t share?”

  • “What would be helpful?”

  • “What areas do you want feedback on that are important to you?”

  • “Was the feedback I gave you specific enough?”

  • “Was my feedback clear enough?”

  • “How can my feedback be more helpful?”

  • “What kind of feedback is most helpful?

  • “What are you looking for in my feedback?”

Perhaps there are times that you are compelled to give unsolicited feedback. One of the ways that can make that acceptable is to ask for permission. Keep in mind that they may say no, depending on your relationship and what’s going on, please honor that.

How is this helpful in your own personal life? Couples constantly give each other feedback, the better you are at this the better that you can grow together as a couple and be supportive to one another. Perhaps you want to help your sibling or anyone that’s personally important to you. The same care and attention apply that I have previously mentioned above. Giving feedback well can help improve personal and professional relationships. Now, go out and practice!


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