The practice of giving feedback allows individuals to improve their performance by tapping into group feelings and needs. Receiving and using feedback well is a vital skill for students, workers and team members. Teaching the basics of effective feedback to a group is done using a series of feedback and team-building activities.
Developing Feedback Criteria
Successful feedback and reviews require a well-developed criteria. Have the group work together to create a list of what is acceptable and unacceptable when giving and receiving feedback. Use a whiteboard to list the acceptable criteria so everyone can see and understand. For example, it's acceptable to provide criticism on a project, but it is unacceptable to criticize a person. Give the group examples of acceptable and unacceptable feedback behavior, and encourage everyone to offer a suggestion for the criteria list.
Practice Positive Criticism
Instruct the participants on positive criticism. Positive criticism doesn't cast the person or the work in a negative light, but instead provides action statements and solutions to negative situations. Begin by providing hypothetical situations. Instruct each participant to formulate a feedback response that focuses on one positive and one negative aspect of the situation. An example situation is that Jim is always over deadline, but he pitches in and helps others with their projects. Participants should provide a summary of Jim's deadline issues while providing a solution for the issues and complimenting him on his team attitude.
Divide the group into teams of two to three people. Provide each team with a hypothetical situation and instruct them to write a short action plan on how they would handle the situation. Team members should exchange papers and write brief feedback on the other participant's action plan, using the feedback criteria and positive criticism skills previously discussed. The participants should take back their papers at the end of the exercise and review the feedback comments as a group.
Reacting positively to feedback, even when it's criticism, is a vital skill. Instruct the participants to write down how the feedback made them feel. Remind the group that the feedback isn't meant to criticize them as a person, but to provide a criteria for future improvement. Give the participants guidance on modifying their previous action plan in light of the feedback received. Encourage the groups to work together to improve their action plans by giving verbal feedback as they work.