The act of giving and receiving performance related feedback is a necessary function in any professional environment.  That is the prescribed method we use to convey and accept information designed to educate us and better organize, improve and inspire our actions.  It is a prerequisite to success in any organization. The problem is that it can be fraught with peril.

The first problem has to do with intent, mainly with the motivation and modus operandi of the author of the feedback.  It is analogous to the reference we have to good cop, bad cop.  The initiator of the feedback is often someone with more authority than the receiver and that can weigh heavily on the mindset of the receiver.  When we stray away from the basic concept of using feedback to improve and enlighten and instead use it as a weapon to punish and destroy, we weaken the sometimes fragile fabric of our organizations.  That’s the nature of the bad cop.  On the other hand, when we use feedback to train, educate and inspire, we are strengthening the core values of our organizations and empowering our staffs to be the best they can be.  That’s the nature of the good cop.

Being sensitive to the consciousness of the receiver doesn’t mean we have to be passive or evasive in our tone.  There is a process for giving effective, professional feedback that isn’t degrading or insulting.  When we use that process, we allow both the giver and recipient of the feedback to remain supportive.

Lewis Parham
Writer’s Cramp, Inc.