How To Rethink The Way You Give Feedback

There was a time when “How well do you accept feedback?” was one of the most common interview questions that could filter out toxic candidates. Fast-forward to 2022, and you may have noticed that “How well do you give feedback?” has become a much better gauge of employee personality, as many in the newest generations of the workforce crave constant, candid feedback.

So how do you give feedback to your Millennial and Generation Z employees? How well do you meet their needs on a daily basis without sounding like a jerk? Easier said than done—finding the right balance between helpful and hurtful feedback can be tricky. Your employees want you to tell the truth, but they don’t want you to be rude. They don’t expect you to sugarcoat every word, but they would love for you to care for them. In other words, your feedback should be radically candid but build trust and respect simultaneously.

Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be that complex. You don’t have to monitor employee performance, complete never-ending review sheets or point out things you’ve found in the quarterly or annual review sessions while hoping they will take it well. (By the way, if this sounds like how you deliver your feedback, congrats, the rest of this article will save your career—but I digress.) Giving and receiving feedback can be fun, meaningful, and effective; you just need a little help. And by that, I mean the help of gamification.

Let’s review the concept of gamification real quick before we dive into how it can leverage the way you give feedback. Think for a moment: Why do people love games? What makes people go nuts about them? If you’re a gamer, the answer may be easy. It gives you instant feedback.

For example, if you’re playing an action role-playing video game, you typically kill or die; if you’re playing racing simulation games, you can’t miss where and how you failed. In virtual reality training platforms, every action learners make in immersive learning experiences has the potential to become a data point for instant feedback.

These games constantly let you know where you need more practice and how you can improve your performance, and this provides learning opportunities. No matter what goals your organization may have, gamification lets your employees practice toward those goals while teaching them where and how they can do better to meet the goals.

Video-based training and coaching platforms (full disclosure: my company develops these) offer one way to embrace this concept and open up opportunities for providing real-time and personalized feedback. Not only do these platforms have multiple ways to learn and practice, but they also offer a variety of avenues to give and receive feedback. For instance, mentors (managers or trainers) can review video-based assignments and provide one-on-one, timeline-based feedback. Some also include a “gating” option where learners aren’t allowed to move to the next assignment until they get feedback, which helps ensure mentors and learners are on the same page.

With any gamification efforts, it’s important to create a connection point between learners and mentors; there’s a growing need for this in virtual environments. If you’re looking to scale your training, consider creating a guided learning experience where coaching and feedback are automated so learners can own their learning progress with immediate feedback. With endless opportunities to collaborate at a company-wide level, gamification can help you build a strong workplace culture that empowers people and drives results.

Feedback is essential to ensure people learn and grow in a way that aligns with the desired outcomes and expectations. As much as you may want to let go of employees who don’t accept feedback gracefully, many employees are more than ready to leave companies that don’t give feedback the right way.

Rethink how you give feedback today and reimagine how far you can go.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member

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