Help, feedback trap: don't be afraid of criticism!

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"Nothing good ever happens when feedback is missing ”Steve Armstrong, Senior Vice President of Kelly Services is quoted. Feedback should be a gift, a tonic for productivity and work efficiency. One of the most important tools for successful development, learning and change processes. fear feedback

Here writes for you:


Sabine Lanius lanius

Sabine Lanius has worked in the management of an international fair company and has been coaching 1998 executives.


In the scary cabinet of feedback

Giving feedback is not difficult. Accept feedback even more. There is a nice quote from Henry David Thoreau that illustrates the problem of receiving feedback: "Truth always takes two people, one who says it and one who understands it."

And yet there are many Company in which topics such as feedback or recognition are rated low in employee surveys. I always meet managers who feel uncomfortable giving feedback ... and again and again employees who are almost afraid of feedback.

Horror stories about critical discussions

They tell real horror stories, for example of employees who come to the annual employee interview and only ask: "Where should I sign?" Because they are already so frustrated that they don't want to have a feedback conversation.

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Or from a lonely mother and marketing manager, where it is not so good at work and at work, which has reached its limit of strain and which gives the boss unquestioned feedback: she should make better make up.

Feedback is a challenge

In a professional environment, there is constructive feedback and, for the most part, a challenge. Both in managing employees, in dealing with colleagues and in communicating with superiors.

Far too often, it is experienced as difficult to implement, both by the feedback givers and the feedback recipients, and therefore avoided or postponed until it sets in the hustle and bustle of everyday work.

Why is feedback avoided?

It starts with the definition of feedback being unclear. It ranges from: "Everything that takes place between people in communication" to: "What takes place in the annual employee interview is feedback". One speaks of positive feedback, of constructive criticism and negative feedback.

Why is there no constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback does not usually occur in practice because it

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  • a. it is either uncomfortable for those involved to address certain things openly, honestly and clearly. You do not want to hurt anyone or you are afraid of a "counter strike" (nasties, information will no longer be passed on etc.) or
  • b. a guideline “how-we-do-it” is missing and it is unclear to the donor how he should address the issues constructively.

Feedback on side warriors

The consequences are that you do not give feedback or switch to side war sites and, for safety reasons, address non-critical issues. "You have a nice smile!"

Frequently, the feedback method is not known or is not applied clean enough. This can lead to personal injury to the recipient, especially if he / she has opened the door beforehand.

Then “giving feedback” is simply misused as a cover phrase to unload frustration. Anyone who has experienced this as a recipient will always shy away from hearing feedback in the future.

What is not feedback?

It is easy to start with the demarcation:

  • Feedback is not equated with criticism or evaluation.
  • Feedback is not always negative.
  • Feedback is not a one-way communication à la “What I wanted to tell you a long time ago…”
  • Feedback is not a discharge of anger or frustration.

What is feedback?

Feedback is a feedback to behavior, processes, or results that provides the opportunity for positive change, growth, development, and self-awareness.

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Why is feedback important?

Constructive feedback - giving and taking - is valuable and important for a variety of reasons. It

  • offers personal learning and development opportunities for the recipient.
  • strengthens the problem solving capacity of individual and thus of a team and the company.
  • contributes to an open, trusting corporate culture and thus strengthens employee loyalty and motivation.
  • reduces the risk of misunderstanding or misunderstanding and thus prevents errors.
  • strengthens the trust relationship between feedback providers (eg supervisors) and the feedback recipient (eg employees)
  • helps in self-assessment: reduces discrepancies between the self-image and the external image (Blinderfleck).
  • helps in the planning of professional development.

Open feedback yes, but it needs to be learned

Yes, an open and effective feedback exchange is the key to success in development, growth and change situations.

But it needs to be learned. Without uniform and well-known "feedback rules", it remains vague for donors and recipients and therefore unpredictable. This unsettles all parties and can lead to unpleasant experiences.


Therefore, the setting / framework as well as a guideline should be coordinated or elaborated in advance in the team or in the company. It needs a framework and a common guide that is known to all stakeholders.

Then everyone knows how it goes and what he gets into! Under these conditions, feedback can really benefit the individual, the team, and the company.

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