types of feedback to coworkers

What type of feedback do you give coworkers?

By Mathew Love

Did you know that there are different types of feedback you can give your coworkers? You probably have a tendency to use one type in work settings, but you may not realize you had a “type” at all.

While each feedback type differs significantly from the other, they’re all necessary when providing your coworker or teammate with a holistic set of insights that they can use to boost the success rate of their idea or project. You may not embody each of these four types naturally, and it’s not absolutely essential that you do—because that’s where teamwork makes the dream work.

In any case, it’s important that you’re aware of these specific types so that you can at least plan to have them available and included (even if from different members of your team) when needed. So, what’s your feedback type?

Effective Feedback

The goal of effective feedback is to get the recipients to internalize the feedback so that they can use the suggested strategies independently in future work, or in moving forward on their project. This type of feedback is intended to be used by the colleague or recipient to independently move their reasoning and thought processes to the next level. Criteria-based phrases are used to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the feedback recipients work.

For example; “I agree with the pattern that you have identified in the table. However, I am not convinced that the rule you wrote works for all the values in the table. How can you prove this?”

The nature of this type of feedback limits the feedback giver to one or two traits/aspects of a certain quality at a time. Which is why it’s important to have a few of these types giving their feedback on the same idea or project.

Descriptive Feedback

The goal of descriptive feedback is to improve the recipient’s achievement or rate of success by telling them how to move forward in their project or big idea process. This type of feedback is intended to tell the recipient exactly what needs to be improved or worked on.

For example; “You accurately found the number of students in 4th grade who said chocolate ice-cream was their favorite.  You now need to divide this number by the total number of students to get the percentage of who said chocolate ice-cream was their favorite.”

As you can imagine, this type of feedback isn’t as effective in getting recipients to move forward in their thought processes and can sometimes hinder the success of the project, as you’re holding their hand instead of empowering them. However, it is sometimes necessary if the recipient hits a roadblock and can no longer move forward with their project or idea.

Evaluative Feedback

The goal of evaluative feedback is to measure the recipient’s achievement or level of success with a score, grade or a touch of assurance that they’re heading in the right direction. This is feedback that is intended to summarize what the recipient has achieved and how close they got to succeed in the project or idea. It often also helps compare performance against a set of peers. It does not give guidance on how to improve the recipient’s reasoning, thought processes or idea formulation.

For example; “You’ve succeeded in creating a logical workflow here, and it makes sense in the way that you’ll present it to your clients.”

Since it is not intended to move the recipient forward in any sort of process, it can be given at random or at increments of the plan or launch of an idea/ project.

Motivational Feedback

The goal of motivational feedback is to make the recipient feel positive or feel good about their progress thus far. This feedback is intended to encourage and support the recipient and give them the motivation or assurance they need to continue with their project or idea. It does not give them guidance on how to improve their reasoning, concept or thought processes.

For example; “This is the best path of execution you’ve established yet. Keep it up!”

Since it’s not intended to move the recipient forward in their project or idea process, it can be given at random or at increments of the plan or launch of an idea/ project.

You may have noticed by now that a combination of these types of feedback may be best when attempting to provide your colleague or teammate with a holistic perspective into their project or idea. Each type has a time and place and could be used positively to ensure that whatever is being worked on reaches its full potential. Don’t fret if you often find yourself leaning towards one specific type of feedback. The chances are that someone else in your team or workplace will lean towards a type of feedback that perfectly complements yours, thus ensuring that the recipient of your collective feedback gets all the insights they need to succeed!

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