Providing feedback

This week, our work focused on analyzing the structure and quality of an existing e-Learning design, and then providing compassionate, actionable feedback about ways to improve the design. We used a large, detailed template to review 14 different features of the e-Learning, then used an 18-category rubric to score the sample. The final piece was writing the review and providing feedback for ways to improve the module. I’m sure you can imagine how very long and detailed this assessment was!

While the exercise is perfect for a class, or even to do on your own, sharing that level of detail at work could cause abrasion at work. As our professor, Roberta Dombroski, pointed out in some of her feedback to the class, people can take feedback personally. Instead of well-intended suggestions provided to help improve the final product, your co-workers might see you as a bully. How can we provide constructive feedback without alienating others?

A good place to start is not sharing the 14-point review and 18-point rubric–or at least not all of it. Professor Dombrowski suggested mentioning 3-5 items, instead of bombarding others with your suggestions. The other piece to this is providing compassionate feedback. We’ve referred to this Brainpickings article throughout the semester as a guide for providing feedback. I encourage you to read the article, but to summarize, the author provides a method to make people more receptive to feedback, and therefore more likely to act on it:

  1. Restate you co-worker’s goal or position “clearly, vividly and fairly.”
  2. List any points of agreement.
  3. Point out anything you’ve learned from them.
  4. Provide constructive feedback.

This method spends 75% of your time building a relationship with the individual, and only 25% of the time offering criticism. This method, coupled with focusing feedback on actionable changes, will make co-workers more receptive to your feedback, and less overwhelmed then if you presented them with a 32-point inspection.

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