Can you have too much feedback?

Pawel Brodzinski asked the above question on Twitter recently. As soon as I saw this I replied as follows:

Can you receive “too much” feedback? NO!!! Too few people receive any and the quality of it is questionable

I speak to a lot of people:

  • training managers – they complain that the annual appraisals are ‘slow’ in coming in – i.e. managers have not finished them so they cannot start to develop a training plan until they are all completed the person being appraised – they complain that the appraisal is a tick box exercise and they rarely receive any feedback at all
  • managers – “oh, I have to do 10 appraisals before 15 December. I don’t know where I will get the time from”

I started my training career working with managers helping them to develop their management skills. A lot of work was based around the giving and receiving of feedback, something I see as a huge developmental tool, if used properly.

What type of feedback

I use a simple but practical model based on affirmative and developmental feedback:

affirmative feedback – this maintains good performance by telling the person they have done a good job. The ‘telling’ rewards the person and encourages them to continue to do things well. People suggest to us that they are often ‘starved’ of this type of feedback

developmental feedback – this helps people see what they need to do differently: maybe their behaviour or their performance needs to improve.

My personal experience with feedback

When I was a ‘junior’ trainer in an organisation I craved and sought out feedback so I could increase my performance. I received feedback from:

  • participants on the many training courses I ran
  • feedback from tutors on courses I went on (I discovered that I used to ask a lot leading questions)
  • colleagues in an action learning set
  • my excellent boss and mentor Jeff

So, to come back to the question Pawel presented I believe you cannot have too much feedback.

So what does this all mean for the project manager?

  • do you give feedback to your project team members?
  • what type of feedback do you give – developmental or affirmative or both?
  • how do you monitor feedback i.e. is it actioned?
  • how do you use it to ensure people develop themselves

One final thing; in my travels mainly around the UK, I have come across many performance management schemes and guess what, not all have performance management measures for project management!

Food for thought and thank you Pawel for posing the question

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