The A-B-Cs of Giving Feedback to a Colleague

Providing feedback. It’s so much more than sharing some helpful information with another person regarding his or her work. It’s a gift — a chance to help someone improve themselves or their work, and ultimately our students will benefit.

If you think about it, feedback is as much about you as the person you’re providing it to. Your feedback is a reflection of you. The quality of it, and the time you spend giving it, shows how much (or how little) you value the feedback process. The fact that someone is asking you for your feedback speaks volumes. After all, someone has made himself or herself vulnerable to you. They have invested time in their work and trust you and your professional opinion. I hope thinking about feedback this way puts you in the right frame of mind when evaluating someone’s work, or, more accurately, their labor of learning.

While there are many things to consider before providing feedback, narrowing the focus to a few simple A-B-Cs can be quite helpful.

A. Feedback should be accessible and action-oriented.

Any ideas you provide should be easy to understand and conveyed as suggestions or questions. Reactions need to be shared in a friendly, helpful way. Try to avoid expressing a feeling of “change this, or else what you’ve done won’t be any good.” Also, if it’s fitting, suggest a possible action that the person you’re providing feedback to can take that may lead to project or performance improvement. A great way to start an accessible, actionable feedback statement is in the form of a question that begins with the words “What if…?” or, “How could…?”

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