Giving and Receiving Feedback
Looking for the best way to give feedback in a way that avoids defensiveness and improves chances for change? Check out our series of articles on the best ways to give and receive feedback.
Pro Tips: How to Give Negative Upward Feedback (With Examples)
Negative feedback—it’s sometimes necessary. If possible, it’s probably a good idea to share that feedback with the person who could grow from it. But what happens when that person is positioned above you on the organizational chart? Do you keep quiet, or should you share the constructive criticism you have?
That depends, says Ethan Dunham, who works with both teams and executives as a coach for G360 Surveys.
“A lot of people think constructive feedback can’t flow both ways, because of the power dynamic that exists between a subordinate and their boss,” he says. “They think, ‘This person signs my checks, so I have to keep quiet on this issue.’”
But that’s usually not the case—especially when a couple of things are true about the relationship and the organization’s climate. There must be trust and psychological safety, he says.
Do you feel like you have both of those things? That’s a good sign, but it’s not permission to barge into your boss’ office and unleash your grievances. How to give negative upward feedback effectively involves a few more steps, including the ones outlined below.
Get in the Right Mindset
Are you fuming mad at a joke your boss cracked at the team meeting this morning? Attempt to give her negative upward feedback now and you might accidentally give her a piece of your mind instead.
“The right time to give feedback might be different for everyone,” Ethan says. “Some people need a ton of time to cool off and others don’t. It really depends on whether the emotionality of your experience will impede your ability to deliver feedback in a way that they can hear.”
Get Guidance (If You’re Having Trouble Getting in the Right Mindset)
If you’re feeling uncertain about how to deliver negative upward feedback or even if you should bring up whatever it is that’s bothering you, Ethan suggests consulting with someone you trust. This could be a spouse, a roommate or a professional mentor (bonus points if they’re at the same organization).
“If they have more experience with the culture than you do, you might ask them how they’d get the message across,” he says.
Get Their Permission
Nobody likes to be caught off guard, and that’s especially true when they’re receiving negative feedback. Whenever you give upward negative feedback, you should ask permission to do so. This can be as simple as saying:
- “May I share some feedback with you?”
- “I have some feedback that I’d like to discuss with you, is that alright?”
- “Is now a good time to share some feedback with you?”
- “I have been working hard to develop myself and one of the areas I need to work on is giving critical feedback. Would it be OK if I practiced this skill in our meeting today?”
If they say no, and they might, simply ask to schedule some time to speak. It’s not a bad sign that now is a bad time.
It’s All in the Delivery
There can be a fine line between bosses behaving badly and humans behaving, well, like humans. Sometimes they don’t mean to drop the ball. Sometimes they don’t realize how their actions affect their team members. Keep this top of mind as you deliver your feedback. “Assumption of good will is key,” Ethan says. “You should give the other person an opportunity to do well or do right,” Ethan says.
Say this: “We’ve been talking for the last few months about my desire for an opportunity for a promotion. I’m trying to be patient, but I’m getting a little antsy. In our meeting today, could we revisit the topic and make sure I am still on track?”
Not this: “You said I would have a promotion by the end of the year. It’s December 12 and I haven’t heard about it yet!”
Say this: “At the Monday meeting, when you said X, I think it was meant as a joke because a lot of people laughed, but it hurt my feelings.”
Not this: “Hey, I can’t believe what you said about me in the meeting this morning.”
“Go tough on the problems and easy on the people,” Ethan says. “If you go in with that spirit, it will be a much more fruitful feedback experience.”
5 Tips for a Better 360 Degree Feedback Report
You’ve sent the survey. You’ve received the responses. And now you’re ready to share the results with your team. But wait. Just like poorly designed questions can hamper your 360 feedback efforts, a hard-to-read report can have a similar effect. If the reader can’t make heads or tails of their feedback results, what’s the point of having a 360 feedback process? Below, we detail 5 best practices for an effective 360 degree feedback report.
Data visualization is having a moment. But just because you saw the New York Times do it doesn’t mean you should try out the latest data visualization technique in your feedback report. We’re big fans of the most basic data visualization tool there is—the bar graph. In our experience, bar graphs are the easiest to read by the largest group of people. In contrast, radar charts are harder to read and understand.
What do you call a 100-page feedback report? Unread! In our opinion, some assessments solicit feedback on too many competencies. For example, the original Lominger assessment measured 67 competencies, which created reports that were 100+ pages. At G360 Surveys, we measure 16 competencies and generate reports that are 11-15 pages long.
The Right Amount of Details
Another area that can affect the page count of your 360 report is the level of detail given on each competency. Definitions should be brief and can link to additional information if more is needed. It’s also unnecessary to provide the responses to every single question along with a complex analysis of those responses. Providing the competency scores and including a high-level analysis ensures the 360 report is both easy to read and easy to act upon.
Qualitative Data in a 360 Degree Feedback Report
The most effective 360 surveys gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback. Logic follows, then, that the most effective 360 degree feedback reports combine both quantitative (numbers and bar graphs) and qualitative (rich, insightful comments) data. It’s not the numbers or the comments. These two data types inform each other and work together to paint a more complete feedback picture.
A Way Forward
Most 360 reports provide only feedback, stopping short of giving guidance on how to improve. At G360 Surveys, we include goal setting guidance, a personal development plan template and embedded training resources in each of our 360 reports.
Take a look at our sample 360 report to see these best practices in action.
360 Feedback Examples: Sample Questions for a Stronger Survey
We’re big believers in 360 feedback’s ability to motivate teams and strengthen leaders. But because we’ve been doing this for a long time, we’re also aware of the possibility that it can sometimes do the opposite. The reality is, despite your best intentions, good feedback can go bad. People can get their feelings hurt. They can misunderstand their results. Teams might emerge from the process more frustrated and less motivated. How can you prevent this from happening?
Ensuring a smooth 360 feedback survey process requires a soup to nuts approach, starting with the questions you ask. Follow our lead with the following tips and examples of 360 feedback questions:
360 Feedback Examples: Closed-ended Questions
Closed-ended questions invite survey respondents to choose from a set of pre-defined answers, like yes or no or the various choices on a rating scale. These are great for collecting quantitative data, which will show up on your survey reports as graphs and charts. These questions should be easy to understand, focus on one issue at a time and be totally bias-free. Good closed-ended examples of 360 feedback questions that would be answered on a 1 to 5 scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree include:
- Chris communicates in a clear and understandable way.
- Sam listens closely when other people are talking.
- Cindy has strong presentation skills.
Contrast those with these bad examples of closed-ended 360 feedback questions:
- Chris communicates well most of the time.
- Sam looks at his cell phone a lot.
- Cindy gets nervous when presenting.
360 Feedback Examples: Open-ended Questions
Open-ended questions require respondents to dig a little deeper and provide details about their experience. These are great for collecting qualitative data, such as attitudes and moods. Understandably, it’s harder to analyze these types of responses because they can be all over the place. But they’re critical for providing context, identifying trends and highlighting specific behaviors. Just like closed-ended questions, these should be easy to understand, hyper-focused on a single question, and be free of leading or loaded statements. Good examples of open-ended 360 feedback questions include:
Please provide comments on Chris’s interpersonal skills
Please provide comments on Sam’s problem-solving skills
What are Cindy’s strengths and opportunities for development?
Now take a look at these bad examples of open-ended 360 feedback questions:
• How easy is it to relate to Chris?
• How does Sam go about solving problems?
• What’s wrong with Cindy’s leadership style?
Can you spot the differences? When designing 360 feedback survey questions, pay close attention to how easy they are to understand, whether they include any leading or loaded statements, and how many questions each question is really asking. It’s also a good idea to administer the survey to a small test audience, to determine if they had issues with readability or could detect bias.
Better yet, partner with us for your 360 feedback survey needs. When you work with G360 Surveys, you can rest easy knowing your survey will include a healthy mix of closed- and open-ended questions that were designed with your success in mind. Get in touch today.
360 Feedback Start Stop Continue Examples
Start stop continue. This may sound like a variation on a favorite childhood game, but don’t overthink it. Start stop continue is a simple feedback framework that can uncover rich insights while encouraging continuous improvement in individuals and teams. Before we share some start stop continue examples, let’s take a look at how this easy feedback method works.
Start Stop Continue Feedback Basics
It’s really as simple as it sounds. Just like a formal 360 degree review, start stop continue feedback is a way for managers to hear from their direct reports about what’s working and what they need to work on.
Start: What should leaders, peers or individuals start doing to improve team performance?
Stop: What should they stop doing because it’s hurting team performance?
Continue: What should they continue doing because it’s helping team performance?
Start stop continue feedback is typically administered by the person seeking the feedback. You can ask your team to respond to an online survey, they can write down their responses on 3×5 cards or the feedback can be verbal. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it.
One final note before we share start stop continue examples: Just because this feedback framework is straightforward and not particularly groundbreaking, that doesn’t mean it always will be effective. Good feedback, regardless of the method used, is contingent on having strong relationships and a culture that values development and growth.
Getting Better Team Feedback: Start Stop Continue Examples
We’ve developed the following start stop continue examples. Use them to model your own start stop continue responses or provide them as examples when soliciting feedback from your team.
Jisoo was recently promoted to creative director at a mid-size marketing agency. She manages a team of seven designers and reports to the owner of the company. Here’s a sample of the feedback Jisoo received after a recent start stop continue feedback exercise:
Start: “I think I understand why she does it—to give us space to be creative. But Jisoo should start chiming in with her feedback earlier in the creative process. It would save time. Clients would be happier with us, because we’d get them concepts sooner, too.”
Stop: “Jisoo has been doing a great job as a leader, but I think she requests too many meetings. Some of her meetings could have been an email. Fewer meetings would mean more concentrated blocks of time for client-facing work.”
5 Examples to Help You Communicate 360 Degree Feedback Strengths and Weaknesses
When it comes to 360 degree feedback, gathering the intel is the easy part. What’s much harder is sharing that feedback with the team members—especially when it’s negative feedback. How do you do it in a way that is helpful, not hurtful? How do you make sure the criticism is, well, constructive? Below are five of the most common 360 degree feedback strengths and weaknesses and examples of how to communicate them candidly and effectively.
1. Communication skills
“Jeremiah, I appreciate how strong you are as a communicator. When you make presentations, your use of metaphors and stories really grab your audience. People seem very engaged and interested in what you have to say. In my mind, that’s half the battle!
One of the things you might consider focusing on is spending a little bit more time listening to others and asking questions. It might be helpful to get a better understanding of what another person is experiencing or saying before sharing your own perspective. Asking a good question is sometimes more valuable than giving a good answer.”
“Elena, one of your strengths as a leader is that your direct reports really enjoy working for you. Staff meetings seem to be playful and enjoyable, which is not always the case. When team members enjoy spending time together, people tend to be more engaged and motivated.
I think one of the things you might consider working on is adding a bit more structure to your projects. It might be helpful to use some tools like Trello or Slack to make sure everybody is on board with the project. It might also be helpful to hold people more closely accountable to deadlines and individual responsibilities. When communication and accountability is lacking, people can slack off.”
3. Teamwork/Interpersonal skills
“Terry, you’re always good at delivering results. You know how to get the job done and done right. Whenever I have a mission or critical task that needs to get done, I always think of you because I know you’ll meet my expectations and get the job done on time.
While you’re good at delivering results, sometimes you run over others in the process. You can be so focused on a task or deadline that you sometimes become insensitive and demanding towards others. While you get the job done in the short term, I’m afraid you might be causing some problems in the long term because people may not want to work with you in the future.”
“Charlane, companies will only survive in the long term if they can adapt and figure out new ways of achieving results. That’s one of the things I appreciate about you. You’re always thinking of new ways to achieve superior results. You never rest on your laurels and you’re always thinking about how to improve yourself as an individual and us as a company.
While your ability to adapt and change is admirable, sometimes people need a little bit more stability and predictability in their jobs. If they feel like their work is never good enough, they can get discouraged. So it’s important to encourage others and show them how much you appreciate them even while at the same time challenging them to work harder and go farther.”
5. Problem Solving/Creativity
“Eric, I appreciate your diligence to solve problems once you discover them. You’re great at jumping in and taking care of issues once they appear. I appreciate your commitment to customer service.
One thing I’d like you to work on is figuring out why certain problems seems to be happening time and time again. I think you might need to dig in a little deeper and come up with some solutions that address the problems before they even begin.”
Need more 360 degree feedback strengths and weaknesses examples? When you choose G360 Surveys for your 360 degree feedback system, you also receive easy-to-read feedback reports that help you identify strengths and weaknesses and provide a template for communicating and addressing them.