Ten Commandments of Feedback

October 31, 2016

As an imaging leader, it is important to communicate feedback appropriately.

As leaders in our imaging departments, one of our responsibilities is to help improve employee performance and mentor employees who aspire to be in leadership positions. The only way this can be done is through feedback.  A few months ago I was given an excellent handout by our CEO that I have found very helpful as a guide to providing feedback. The handout “The Ten Commandments of Feedback” is from Your Teacher Training Handbook by Jim McGrath and Anthony Coles.   

 As we know, feedback can be positive or negative and is information provided about an individual’s performance or behavior. The way negative feedback is given is extremely important. As Frank A. Clark said “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”  Here are ten commandments of feedback from the handbook that ideally will prevent an aggressive response or destroying an individual: 

1. Offer feedback on observed behavior, not on perceived attitudes.

2. Offer a description of what you saw and how you felt, rather than a judgement.

3. Focus on behavior which can be changed.

4. Choose which aspects are most important and limit yourself to those.

5. Ask questions rather than make statements.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"53401","attributes":{"alt":"Communication in radiology","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_387078881414","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6671","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 110px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©igor kisselev/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

6. Set the ground rules in advance.

7. Comment on the things that an individual did well, as well as areas for improvement.

8. Relate all your feedback to specific items of behavior: do not waffle about general feelings or impressions.

9. Observe everyone’s personal limits.

10. Before offering any feedback, consider its value for the receiver, if there is none, keep quiet. 

Here is a very important concept; BUT break any of the commandments of feedback, providing that you understand the rule and its purpose and that what you propose to do is going to achieve your ends more efficiently, with regard to the individual.

The goal any time you are providing constructive criticism is to send the message in a way that the individual’s defense mechanisms don’t kick in and your message is heard.   Hopefully, you will find these ten suggestions helpful in giving you a different perspective when offering negative feedback.