Feedback must be a part of every organization's culture. Supervisors must be equipped with the skills to effectively provide feedback and supervisees must receive feedback appropriately. Unfortunately, feedback is not always provided when it should be. This post reviews what feedback is, who should receive feedback, and how to provide it effectively.
What is feedback?
Feedback is information about performance. It is one of the most frequently used and studied interventions in the OBM literature. Feedback can function as an antecedent or a consequence. Most often, both positive and corrective feedback is provided. When providing feedback, there are a number of characteristics to consider:
What content should be delivered? Should the feedback be provided about the individual's performance in relation to their previous performance? Should the feedback be in relation to some standard or group? Research suggests that most often feedback is provided in relation to that individual's previous performance or in relation to some standard.
At what frequency should feedback be delivered? Should it be provided daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually? Research suggests that weekly feedback is provided most frequently.
Where should the feedback be provided? Should it be provided in public or private? Surprisingly, most often, feedback is delivered publically.
What is the medium in which the feedback is provided? Should it be provided verbally, written, or graphically? Most often feedback is provided in writing.
Who should be the feedback deliverer? Should it be a supervisor, expert, or peer? Research suggests that most often feedback is provided by a supervisor.
These underlined research findings may not be the most effective characteristics of feedback; however, they are reported to occur most frequently in the literature.
Who should receive feedback?
Everyone! Newly hired staff, stellar tenured employees, and everyone in between. Supervisors must ensure that all supervisees receive feedback regularly. It is their job to catch employees performing well and provide positive feedback, as well as provide corrective feedback to address performance issues that occur. The next installment will describe a function-based approach to addressing employee performance issues.
Providing feedback is tough: A personal experience
Providing feedback is not easy, or always preferred. I used to despise providing corrective feedback. And I wasn’t very good at providing positive feedback. Until one day I realized what the impact was for each time that I avoided providing corrective feedback when it was necessary. The procedure continued to be implemented incorrectly and my lack of action was impacting the client's progress. In that moment I realized I needed to figure out a way for me to be comfortable and confident in providing feedback.
To assist in being more comfortable and confident, I would write out the feedback (positive and corrective) I was going to deliver and practice it. I may have practiced with a mentor, colleague, or in front of a mirror. This practice was very helpful as I was able to revise what I would say to make sure that emotions were not impacting the information provided and that I was clear in my delivery.
I’ve found that most people truly appreciate receiving feedback when it is delivered in a caring manner with the goal of repertoire enhancement. Creating an organizational culture where feedback is normalized and embedded into processes is so important. We all have the same common goal: to provide high-quality services to those we serve. Without providing feedback, it is hard to accomplish this goal.
How to provide effective feedback
Shuler and Carroll (2019) outline the steps to providing effective feedback. I recommend reading their article to learn more about the steps outlined below.
Collect accurate integrity data
Provide positive feedback for correct performance
Describe incorrect performance
Provide a rationale for changing incorrect performance
Provide instruction for correct performance
Provide demonstration of correct performance
Provide an opportunity for the supervisee to practice
Provide an opportunity for the supervisee to ask questions
Here is access to the feedback inforgraphic I created earlier this year: https://e5d413db-9c60-417c-82fc-14647523205c.usrfiles.com/ugd/e5d413_c232d0542ccd491cbe2e8dcf26c1a79e.pdf. It provides a framework for how to become a feedback warrior.
More to come on how to teach feedback reception skills in a future installment!
Shuler, N., & Carroll, R. A. (2019). Training supervisors to provide performance feedback using video modeling with voiceover instructions. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 12(3), 576-591. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-018-00314-5