1.10 Facilitating Feedback
THE FAST FACILITATOR Facilitating Feedback 57
We are all pretty familiar with the idea of feedback.
It is a well-established management technique.
Most people have a broad understanding of the
importance of feedback and understand how to give
and receive it, but this doesn’t mean they do it well.
Feedback is scary. We sometimes feel uncertain
about our right to tell people what they are doing
well and what they are doing badly. How will they
react? What happens if they don’t like the feedback
we give them? Does it lead to more problems?
It is also hard to accept feedback. It sounds like
criticism, which makes us get defensive. After all,
what right has anyone else to highlight our
weaknesses when they have plenty of their own? It
can make us angry if we feel that the person giving
us feedback is doing so not to help us, but to expose
our faults.
These are fears every facilitator must address,
because feedback is a technique that you have to be
adept at. As a facilitator, you will need to be able to
challenge behavior, notice individual and group
dynamics, and support and value colleagues.
Feedback has to be part of every facilitator’s toolkit.
At the outset, the facilitator and manager need
to concern themselves with the following types of
feedback:
1. Positive feedback. We all like validation, but it is
often harder to praise someone than to find
fault. Some managers say that they don’t praise
their staff because they fear that it will unleash
immediate demands for a raise in pay. Praise,
far from being something to resist, is something
that all managers and facilitators should be gen-
erous with because we all like to be appreciated.
Facilitators should enjoy praising workers
for their effort and successes. How do you give
positive feedback? It is more than a pat on the
back. You must highlight a specific piece of
work or activity, and detail what particular
aspects of the work you think made it so success-
ful. Such praise doesn’t have to be accompanied
by a song and dance, but rather treated as
something normal and expected.
2. Constructive feedback. Let’s say a colleague is
preparing for an important presentation and
they ask you to sit in for a rehearsal. With
constructive feedback, you recognize both what
went well and what might be improved. It is not
about you and what you might have done—it is
about noticing the details about the other
person’s performance so that they can adapt to
the requirements of the situation.
Constructive feedback is based on a non-
judgmental and positive regard for the other
person. Feedback is given to encourage the
other person as well as to highlight specific areas
of behavior or actions that might need chang-
ing. In such a case, the neutral offering of
alternative suggestions can be a helpful form of
feedback.
3. Challenging feedback. Feedback is not about
criticism, nor is it a veiled opportunity for one-
upsmanship. It is about highlighting perform-
ance, behavior, or actions that are not working
or that are unacceptable or not up to standard.
As a facilitator or manager, you will need
to challenge some people, but you do not need
to do so in a hostile way. Be clear, raise aware-
ness, and establish where responsibility lies.
To be able to challenge someone else, you will,
of course, need to have a clear contract (see
1.10 Facilitating Feedback
58 • THE FAST FACILITATOR Facilitating Feedback
Activity 14). This might be the company rules
and regulations, team contracts, or performance
standards. If you don’t have a contract in place,
you might find that the ground you stand on is
rather shaky.
Remember, we give feedback to someone else for
their benefit, not ours. It is used to draw people’s
attention to the consequences of their actions. It
can help them see things more clearly or do things
more effectively. Sometimes it is about giving
information and about appreciating their worth.
Finally, it is worth remembering that feedback is
a two-way process. As a facilitator, you have to be
prepared to “walk your talk.” Ask for feedback from
your managers, your colleagues, and your team.
Without this information, how will you know if
what you are doing is effective?

Get The Fast Facilitator: 76 Facilitator Activities and Interventions Covering Essential Skills, Group Processes, and Creative Techniques now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.