FAQs on Giving Feedback
  • 31 Oct 2023
  • 5 Minutes to read

FAQs on Giving Feedback

Article Summary

So, you’ve been asked to provide feedback for a colleague who is seeking to grow as a leader. Your feedback is beneficial because it will help provide a baseline for the Torch program participant to evaluate their strengths and opportunities. With your feedback, they can make behavior changes that will help them develop their leadership skills. 

Before you get started, reference the answers to the most commonly asked questions below.

What is Torch Coaching?

Torch Coaching helps professionals develop new skills and behaviors during moments that matter in their careers. With the help of a professional leadership coach, individuals are supported as they work to make improvements in their performance, professional relationships, and abilities.

Is my feedback anonymous?

As a feedback provider, you should always feel that you can give honest and constructive feedback. Part of this is eliminating anxiety that there might be negative implications for anyone, including yourself, the participant, colleagues, or others. 

Whenever feedback is requested, we describe the level of anonymity that has been configured for that request. The first page of the feedback survey will clearly outline if and how your feedback is anonymized, which will differ depending on if you are completing a 360 Leadership Assessment or Colleague Feedback Request:

  • 360 Leadership Assessment - Generally, the configuration is set to “Anonymize feedback”, which means that your name will not be shared alongside your specific qualitative answers or written feedback. However, keep in mind that written feedback is delivered to the participant verbatim. For quantitative feedback (how you score the participant on individual assessment statements), you will be identified by your job role in relation to the participant (e.g. Manager or Direct Report), unless otherwise stated. Most job roles require 3 responders before showing quantitative feedback associated with a job role, but if you are the only person in a given job role (Manager or Manager's Manager specifically), the participant will be able to associate you with your quantitative feedback. When giving feedback it is possible to accidentally disclose your identity. Sometimes there are not many feedback providers for a given request, and the participant can discern who provided the feedback based on the style, tone, language use, and knowledge or opinions shared. If you wish to preserve anonymity, pay attention to these factors when providing feedback.
  • Colleague Feedback Request - With this assessment, the configuration is set to "identifiable". This means that your quantitative feedback (how you score the participant on individual assessment statements) and qualitative feedback (your written comments) will be shared alongside your name.

Who is my feedback shared with?

Written feedback is never shared beyond the Torch program participant and the debriefer, typically their coach. For a 360 Leadership Assessment, the aggregate, de-identified quantitative scores are reported to the participant with your job category, such as Manager, Direct Report, or Peer. Quantitative scores are further aggregated to remove associated job role and shared with the Torch program administrators from your organization. For a Colleague Feedback Request, your quantitative scores and qualitative comments are reported to the participant alongside your name.

Quantitative scores from both assessments are aggregated to remove identifiable information like associated job role and then shared with the Torch program administrators from your organization.

How can I provide effective feedback?

Here are some tips to provide thoughtful feedback:

  • Be attuned. Your emotional tone and descriptive words should accurately and proportionally match the behavior your feedback is meant to address.
  • Be honest. Define the problem and the solution. The goal of giving feedback is to support the recipient’s growth and to encourage positive change. Growth happens when we learn where and how we can do better.
  • Be specific. It’s easy to be broad and vague, but this isn’t very useful. Try to give examples. If an example might violate anonymity, provide a generalized hypothetical version.
  • Be constructive. This means that your feedback makes it easier for the receiver to take action based on it. The most constructive feedback includes the seed of a suggestion for improvement. An embedded answer isn’t required; it’s enough to provide helpful information that a reasonable person might act on.
  • Be modest. Research shows that feedback varies widely based on factors including perspective, personality, and experience. Leadership is complex, as is human interaction in general. Don’t convey your feedback as objective truth, but rather as your personal experience. Use “I” messages such as “When you do X, I feel Y.” This format helps both parties see their role in a problem and increases the likelihood of a productive outcome.
  • Be kind. This is not always as obvious or easy as it sounds. If you ever receive serious feedback, you will realize that it can be emotionally challenging in ways that the sender does not expect. Take effort to put yourself in the emotional shoes of the receiver. Conservatively communicate in a way that is likely to make the receiver feel safe and supported.
  • Be considerate. Outside of kindness, think of any implications of your feedback on the receiver or others. For example, are you disclosing opinions of others without their consent?
  • Speak from your own experience without giving advice. While it may seem tempting to simply tell your colleague what to do, giving advice can be unsupportive. It is more skillful to help someone find a solution for themselves. By speaking from one’s own direct experience, we model, rather than tell the person what they should do.
  • Talk about the person, not their attitude. When airing a grievance, talk about the person’s behavior, not their attitude. You don’t really know what internal attitudes or motivations lead someone to behave in a certain way, and it is dangerous to make assumptions.
  • Avoid using hyperbolic language. Terms like “you always” and “you never,” or “amazing” or “terrible” can generate a defensive response or cause someone to discredit the feedback.
  • No dumping. People sometimes hold in feedback for too long and then unload on the recipient all at once. If you find yourself wanting to do this in performance reviews and leadership assessments, you’ve probably waited too long and delivering your accumulated resentment without consideration will result in defensiveness rather than positive changes.

Can you recommend some additional resources?

Yes! Check out the resources below for more information.

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