Precious Arinze is a content marketer at MediaBerry who writes about marketing, technology, automation, and employee development for SaaS and B2B companies. When they are not strategizing and executing ideas on how to grow a brand using content as a vehicle for promotion, you'll find them laboring over poems and essays.
Feedback Training: How to Improve Managers' Giving and Receiving Feedback Skills
Many managers see giving feedback as a necessary evil and receiving it as an affront.
Some will dance around the issue or do everything in their power to avoid sharing negative feedback so they don't have to deal with any emotional reaction.
For other leaders, yelling, using brutal honesty, or delivering long demoralizing speeches is the go-to approach for criticizing the performance and actions of their direct reports.
These methods may get the desired results, but they will damage relationships down the road, leaving you with an anxious, hostile, and disengaged workforce.
That's where feedback training comes into play: a necessity for people in leadership positions, even for experienced leaders. It allows them to learn different models and techniques for giving and receiving positive or negative feedback.
This article will:
- Delve into the importance of feedback training for managers.
- Discuss proven strategies and techniques to enhance their skills in giving constructive feedback.
- Share tips for receiving and implementing feedback for your leaders' growth.
- Offer a course outline for your next giving and receiving feedback in the workplace training.
- Give you a self-assessment questionnaire to check how receptive you are to feedback.
💪 Why create training for receiving and giving feedback?
Delivering or responding to feedback the wrong way can breed adverse outcomes such as conflicts, distrust, job dissatisfaction, decreased productivity, and employee attrition.
Let's explore the value of providing your managers with training on giving and receiving feedback.
Giving and receiving feedback is a competency like any other that needs developing
You cannot expect people to be great at giving and receiving feedback just because they're managers.
You have to help them figure out what's wrong with their current process and how they can optimize it to reduce anxiety and turn each feedback scenario into an opportunity for learning.
As Alex Milligan, co-founder, and chief marketing officer (CMO) of NuggMD, puts it:
"There's a formula to delivering feedback effectively and a fine line between giving helpful criticism and talking down to an employee. However, few managers know the difference naturally. Feedback training equips managers with the skills to turn even the most difficult feedback into motivational messaging."
It is a must-have for enabling a growth-oriented culture
The proper training on giving and receiving feedback can transform how people in your organization communicate.
If you're serious about cultivating an environment where workers trust, respect, and support each other, feedback training should be a part of your leadership development plan.
When people fall short of expectations and receive understanding, empathy, and constructive advice, it will only deepen the bond in the workplace, leading to increased job happiness and motivation to achieve team goals.
Sharon Heather, Business Development Director at EasyMerchant Limited, lends credence to this point, drawing from her decade-plus experience in people leadership and management:
"I have learned that managers who receive feedback training are better equipped to give constructive feedback to their team members. This not only improves individual performance but also helps to create a culture of continuous improvement within the team."
Many find giving and receiving feedback uncomfortable
It's human nature to avoid uncomfortable situations and get defensive when given less-than-positive feedback. It takes conscious practice to override these settings and embrace discomfort and external assessment.
Giving and receiving feedback training lays the groundwork for this by providing the right tools and knowledge resources to help managers lean into the uncomfortable with compassion, empathy, and honesty.
It will allow team leaders to cultivate a culture that prioritizes providing regular effective feedback to employees and demands and welcomes it from them.
It can be a sensitive topic that can make or break someone's morale
Stephen Baldwin, founder, and HR Manager of Assisted Living, says:
"Feedback training helps to develop your managers' emotional intelligence and leadership qualities. People respect leaders who can admit to their mistakes and openly take pointers to improve their performance."
The goal is to empower your leaders to receive productive feedback with an open mind instead of letting it bruise their egos. On the flip side, you'll also give them the tools to provide actionable feedback that nurtures development and doesn't alienate employees.
To recognize the importance of feedback
Effective feedback is mindful of what you intend to say, the words you use to express them, and the impact your delivery might have on others.
Giving and receiving feedback training can help managers understand that feedback is a gift. Without it, the organization will stagnate.
This knowledge will push them to become better communicators that don't shy away from giving praise. Or from telling subordinates what behaviors to correct or skills they should devote more effort to improving.
📚 What to include in your giving and receiving feedback training?
Naturally, your company's training on giving and receiving feedback will reflect your unique style, challenges, and skill gaps.
But regardless of how you choose to design your feedback training program, certain elements must feature in it for it to be effective.
Before planning your training efforts and creating courses, you must pin down what you hope to achieve with the training.
Knowing how you want the training to impact participants will enable you to design a syllabus that addresses your main concerns and helps you reach those goals.
To determine what training objectives you should set, you can send feedback surveys to managers and employees. Your goal is to discover what they think or feel about how feedback is given and received in the organization.
The aspects of the feedback process they tend to struggle with or find unsatisfactory are the targets your training should aim to fix.
For example, your objectives can go like this:
By the end of this giving and receiving feedback online training, managers will be able to:
- Understand the importance of giving and receiving feedback.
- Learn different models for giving and receiving respectful feedback.
- Identify the necessary mindset and attitudes that lead to productive feedback.
- Pinpoint common mistakes that can have negative consequences on the feedback process.
- Apply context to understand the root cause of performance issues and offer situational feedback.
- Develop skills and best practices, and implement plans for delivering and receiving constructive criticism.
- Reinforce confidence and positive behaviors through feedback.
Various models to help in the feedback process
Giving feedback is about more than what you say.
How you frame the message is just as important.
You cannot expect all managers to know how to strike a balance between the two effectively. So don't skip on teaching frameworks for giving feedback the right way.
The feedback models you teach in your training will guide managers in structuring conversations and providing clear, specific, and actionable evaluations even when uncomfortable.
It will help them deliver candid feedback focused on actions and behaviors, not the individual's personality.
🎥 Netflix offers a great example of setting clear guidelines for delivering candid feedback. Check all the details of their feedback system in our Netflix case study.
There are many different types of feedback models that you can use to boost confidence, improve communication, and structure your feedback process:
- DESC feedback model;
- STAR feedback model;
- GROW feedback model;
- SBI feedback model;
- IDEA feedback model;
- CEDAR feedback model;
- EEC feedback model;
- BOOST feedback model;
- Pendleton feedback model;
- Sandwich feedback model.
Although each model has its characteristics, no feedback framework is superior.
Instead, you'll have to select one or more that will resonate with participants based on their struggles, experience, and confidence levels.
This is the part of your training where you're going to break down the core message you're trying to convey.
Managers will learn about types of feedback, the psychology of feedback, and different feedback models. Still, it might take a while before they can properly execute them.
They still have to do their jobs and find ways to communicate with direct reports.
Sharing general feedback guidelines and suggestions they can implement immediately will allow them to start changing how they take feedback conversations.
When they implement these little changes and get productive results, they'll be even more excited about incorporating the larger frameworks into their feedback process.
Guidelines have to be simple and easy to remember.
Here are some examples of guidelines for giving feedback that you can recommend to managers:
- Start with a yes/no question to prepare the recipient for the feedback.
- State the specific issue or behavior with examples of when it occurred.
- Stick to one or two points at a time. Too much feedback at once can overwhelm the recipient.
- Describe how the behavior affected you, other team members, or the company.
- Propose or brainstorm a solution to keep the issue from arising in the future.
Helpful guidelines for receiving feedback include:
- Show that you're actively listening; make eye contact, summarize their point, and ask clarifying questions.
- Be mindful of your tone and body language when responding to the speaker's comment.
- Demonstrate your interest in their perspective and ask how you can improve.
- Take the time to unpack the information, reflect on your behavior, and decide whether you will use or ignore the feedback.
- It's okay not to agree with the criticism, but don't take it personally and always seek second opinions before disregarding it.
💡 Tip #1: Encourage managers to share examples of feedback approaches they've used in the past that have worked or not worked for them.
💡 Tip #2: Analyzing good and lousy feedback examples is a great exercise to include in your training. Come prepared with concrete examples and ask managers to reflect on them using the guidelines you previously shared.
Here are some good and bad examples you can include for your discussion:
👎 "Mary's work is consistently subpar and it's frustrating to work with her. She needs to work harder."
👍 "While there's room for improvement, I appreciate the effort Mary puts into her work. I think she could benefit from more training and guidance on how to prioritize tasks."
Giving and receiving feedback training activities
Practicing the theories they've learned about giving and receiving feedback will enable participants to absorb the knowledge and see what it's like to implement it.
So you need to incorporate training activities into your program. There are several ways you can go about this.
For starters, you can begin each lesson by having everyone share examples of what they consider good or bad feedback.
Or you can have them talk about the part of the feedback process they struggle with the most.
Not only will you get some interesting answers, but you'll also push participants to start thinking critically about how they approach feedback.
💡 Tip: Consider using social learning activities like group exercises and role play at the end of the training course to reinforce the topic in a fun way.
For example, your training activity can be to create scenarios and have some participants give feedback using the models they've been taught. Then have another group of participants receive the feedback and react to it.
The final group can take on the role of observers and discuss how well the feedback models and guidelines were used, what should have been avoided, and what they would have done better.
💡 Feel free to get as creative as you want with your training activities for giving and receiving feedback. You can even model them on popular games like charades, bingo, and notes in a jar.
Collecting takeaways from all participants
You want to be sure your managers benefit from your giving and receiving feedback training, not just going through the motions.
At the end of each training module or course, invite them to write down or explain what hit a chord with them. What lessons are they taking with them or excited to use in their feedback interactions?
The responses you get will enable you to refine your training program and spur more managers to rethink preconceived notions around feedback.
Tips for leaders, mentors, and managers
Another essential ingredient that should go into giving and receiving feedback training is practical tips. Think of tips as brief pointers to help participants easily apply what they've learned.
Start by considering what other tricks managers can use to elevate how they give and receive feedback. This is a great place to share any additional useful advice that may not feature in the main training content or courses.
You can place your tips towards the end of each training lesson or the end of the last module.
Quiz to encourage knowledge retention and engagement
How do you ensure that participants retain the information in your training courses?
By quizzing them.
Assessments will allow you to track how well a manager absorbs the materials.
Depending on the scores, you can tell whether your participants are progressing or struggling with the training course.
The latter will point to something wrong with your process, such as lousy instructors, poor content delivery, confusing structure, and dull or lengthy courses.
Testing also helps to reinforce old and new knowledge, making them easier to recall in the future.
Consider adding short quizzes at the end of every lesson and, of course, a final quiz at the completion of the entire training course.
💡 Tip #1: Keep the language for your quiz as simple as possible and opt for short questions to avoid confusing learners.
Tip #2: We recommend using a mix of questions—matching, multiple choice, fill in the blank, and true or false—in your quiz.
Tip #3: Avoid using open-ended questions unless necessary because they require more effort to answer, and the responses are harder to analyze and interpret for training reports.
Here are some examples of single answer quiz questions to include in your training:
1. Why is feedback important in leadership?
- a) It helps leaders improve their communication skills.
- b) It enables employees to feel valued and heard.
- c) It promotes continuous growth and development for both leaders and employees.
- d) It helps leaders maintain control over their teams.
2. Which of the following is NOT a benefit of providing regular feedback?
- a) Increased employee motivation and engagement.
- b) Improved team performance and productivity.
- c) Prevention of surprises during performance reviews.
- d) Encouraging competition and rivalry among team members.
Use a survey to collect feedback and measure training effectiveness
Your work does not end after managers complete the training course.
You still need to evaluate the success of your training program.
The most effective way to do this is by creating post-training feedback surveys to send out to participants at the end of the training.
Your survey will provide quantitative and qualitative feedback from multiple perspectives if you ask the right questions.
Your learning and development team can then leverage this data to boost training engagement and enhance the quality of your future giving and receiving feedback training activities.
Your post-training evaluation should focus on the following core intents:
- Measuring the extent to which participants found the training engaging and relevant.
- Identifying whether the training met managers' expectations.
- Assessing whether participants gained new skills or knowledge from the training
- Discovering what participants think about the training content, structure, delivery, and duration.
- Determining how well participants applied or are applying learnings from the training in the workplace.
- Gauge whether the training met the target objectives.
The questions you include in your survey should touch on these points and help you answer them.
➡️ Don't want to spend time making your post-feedback training survey from scratch? Then, check out our free training evaluation form template.
👩🎓 Giving and receiving feedback training course outline
What this template contains: Teach your people leaders how to create a culture of open communication and promote continuous development with this comprehensive training course outline. The template features eight modules with topic breakdowns, engaging learning activities, and impactful feedback exercises for managers.
Why it is beneficial: Creating a training course can be time-consuming and effort intensive. This template does all the heavy lifting for you by outlining all the content and activities your giving and receiving feedback training will cover. This way, you can skip several steps and weeks of planning and go straight to preparing your training materials.
➡️ Download the Giving and receiving feedback training course outline.
💪 Alternatively, you can get started with Zavvy's Manager training on giving feedback.
🕵️♀️ Why is giving and receiving feedback essential in a company?
When done thoughtfully, giving and receiving feedback creates opportunities for team members to see beyond their blind spots.
It allows for open discussion and evaluation of behaviors and performance across different levels of the organization to foster trust, collaboration, and productivity.
Below are other advantages that mastering the art of feedback can unlock for your company.
Enables managers to act as coaches
Giving and receiving feedback meaningfully is an essential leadership competency, regardless of your company's management system or style.
Without it, your managers won't know how to support your employees. Plus, they will have no sense of how their actions and decisions affect those they manage.
Jonathan Elser, CEO of EcomHalo, explains:
"Giving and receiving feedback enables the management team to speak to employees in a more natural setting. Rather than simply providing instruction or guidance, they are talking to them on their own level in a way they understand. This helps to improve overall communication and build bridges between the different levels of employees."
Learning to remain objective and navigate difficult conversations—whether they are on the giving or receiving end of it—will help your managers become effective coaches, guiding their team to success.
➡️ Find out how to turn managers into better leaders with our coaching skills training guide.
Motivates people to change and do their best work
Employees crave feedback. They want to see their contributions get noticed and be valued. They also want to know they will be heard and respected if they share their opinions and feedback with their supervisors or managers.
When they receive positive acknowledgment and appreciation for their work, they will become more confident in their skills and work to improve.
The key here is having your people treat all feedback, even criticism, as an improvement exercise, not a trial for which they must defend themselves.
🚨 But all this only happens if feedback is given and received the right way.
Suppose employees are belittled and scolded abusively every time they make a mistake. In that case, they will disengage, and team morale will plummet.
The same thing will happen if they realize that they can't give upward feedback without paying for it one way or another.
Creates a growth-oriented and high-performance culture
You can't build a learning culture without creating an environment where people are free to give and receive positive and negative feedback without incident.
Effective feedback is how managers build top-notch employee experiences and ensure their workers stay happy and engaged. Plus, it helps them resolve office tensions before they escalate into something toxic.
It's also how managers learn what their direct reports think of their leadership style and skills and what areas they need to work on.
➡️ Create a feedback and performance culture with Zavvy
We have discussed the need to train your managers to give and receive feedback. All that's left to do is design and roll out your feedback training program.
Zavvy's all-in-one suite of tools helps you speed up the process. Zavvy makes it easy for you to:
- Build a confident, engaged, and growth-oriented workforce with our employee development software.
- Create and launch fully-automated training courses in captivating formats using our learning management system.
- Deliver targeted learning experiences to managers and employees at the right point in their journey.
- Equip managers with coaching skills to effectively lead their teams and model positive behaviors.
📆 Schedule a demo with our experts to try Zavvy out today.
What is the objective of giving and receiving feedback training?
The point of giving and receiving feedback is to help people leaders and employees understand how critical feedback is to individual and organizational success. It also teaches them how to give productive feedback and the strategies they can use to receive, absorb, and respond to feedback respectfully.
Why is giving and receiving feedback important in leadership?
Managers are responsible for setting the tone and culture of an organization.
However, suppose they don't know how to take feedback in stride or effectively communicate their appreciation and dissatisfaction.
In that case, you'll end up with a workplace where everyone is unmotivated, disengaged, and afraid to speak their minds.
What do you learn from receiving feedback?
Feedback can make you aware of weaknesses, blindspots, and other attributes you may not know about yourself. It helps you see what you're doing right and where to improve.