Everyone likes a pat on the back for a job well done but, how many of you are genuinely interested and prepared for an honest feedback? Besides appreciation, an honest feedback would entail constructive criticism giving tremendous scope for improvement for both the individual and the organisation. Having said that, are you ready to face criticism, even if it is in the presence of your peers? Secondly, are you ready to give your honest feedback to your colleagues?

To answer the first question, in general, people are averse to being put down in the presence of their peers, obviously for fear of spoiling their image, damaging their reputation or hurting their ego. An individual would rather have a one-to-one encounter when receiving feedback. Moreover, it is difficult to accept criticism gracefully as it is human nature to get defensive and offended.

When giving feedback, it is human nature to play safe and not spoil relationships with colleagues. Even if a person is open in giving feedback, the tendency is to just casually pinpoint a few areas that need to be tweaked to enhance the work efficiency. It is made as unoffending as possible.

Honest feedback is yet to catch on at the workplace, except for the annual review and appraisal. However, organisations are slowly waking up to this fact and managers are using this to get deeper insights into the employee performance. Some simple techniques can be used to encourage honest feedback from others at the workplace. But the crux lies in having the courage to be honest in giving feedback and of course, to receive as well.

Often, it is difficult to give unprompted criticism. So, if there is a system in place where feedback is compulsorily given at the completion of each project or assignment, it would become a norm to be followed. The manager could initiate the feedback sessions by asking leading questions such as, ‘How can we change this situation to get better results?’ This can be done as a group session without getting personal. In group discussions, decisions can be taken where an individual needs to pull his/her act together or where the employee can enhance the contribution to the team.

Being discreet or anonymous is another step that safeguards both the complainant as well as the criticised colleague. Anonymous and regular feedback can also be given in general through the internal office networks or some specialised social networks.

Some companies also hire consultants and coaches to train people in giving constructive criticism and enhance performance. This should be done on a regular basis with follow-up sessions for checking on improvement.

As an individual, for receiving feedback, you need to be mentally prepared for both positive and negative comments. To prepare yourself mentally, bear the following points in mind.

Remember, when you ask for feedback, the feedback is not about you personally but it may be about an idea or process or act of yours which requires improvement. Encourage your colleagues or your manager to give their honest opinion by assuring them that you will not react negatively. This way you will not only be able to accept the feedback gracefully, but also show improvement in your work without holding a grudge against the person giving the feedback

However, if there are personal attacks or remarks on your character that are not in sync, stand up against it and take appropriate action. Bear in mind that an honest feedback should lead to growth and improvement and not individual malice!

Rekha Murali