Practice makes perfect, right? How many times have you heard that cliché associated with self-improvement? I heard it often from my parents, teachers, and sports coaches while growing up. Well, what would you say if I said this famous cliché is incomplete and inaccurate?
We instructors might be tempted to use this cliché, too, when teaching employees, but I think we need to add two key words to make the phrase more complete and accurate: Practice, with feedback, makes perfect! Someone can practice something all they want but unless they get timely and constructive feedback, they will not reach their full potential.
Oftentimes we focus so much on our presentation skills and the design of our courses that we sometimes forget about doing the little things that help us connect with our learners in meaningful ways; providing effective feedback is one of those often overlooked little things.
With that in mind, I’d like to suggest the following five tips to help you deliver meaningful learner feedback:
1. Ask learners if they would like some feedback. This shows them respect.
2. Always let them know what they are doing well (so they keep doing it), and deliver this feedback with a smile and enthusiasm!
3. Deliver the positive feedback first, followed by suggestions for improvement. Try substituting the word “but” in between positive and negative feedback with the word “and.” For example, “Jim, your essay was well written and I have some ideas on how to improve it. Would you like to hear them?”
4. Deliver your suggestions for improvement with a confident but compassionate tone of voice. When people are learning something new and practicing skills for the first time, they are nervous and more sensitive than normal so keep this in mind.
5. Give them feedback only on things they can control and make the comments very specific so it is clear to them what they need to do to improve instead of just saying, “You’re great!”
So the next time you teach a course, be sure to tell your employees that you are going to give them a lot of practice, with feedback, so they can become as perfect as they can be!
What other tips do you have about giving feedback?
Hello, I’m Lynne Koltookian, a native New Englander. I have lived here all my life and am now the Boston-based instructor for Langevin Learning Services. I started working for Langevin in March of 2007 after working more than twenty years for corporations in eastern Massachusetts.