How to Give Constructive Feedback Constructively

If your advisors agreed with everything you put out there for them to evaluate, it wouldn’t be much of an advisory board. In an ideal world, you want pushback; you want your advisors to call out issues and inconsistencies.

But depending on how the feedback is delivered, it may be tough to take.

This can also be true for feedback one advisor gives about another’s insights. It’s easy to take constructive feedback personally and withdraw from the conversation altogether.

That’s why it’s important to lay these three ground rules out early. You want open and transparent feedback – you don’t want them to tell you what they think you want to hear. And you don’t necessarily want them to all agree with each other. What you’d really like to see is a good quality debate (when appropriate) that really gets the group talking and thinking.

Explore Debate

If someone disagrees with something, ask them to elaborate so everyone understands where they’re coming from. While it may be an individual opinion, it may lead to something else worthy of further discussion.

Provide Solutions

Calling out problems is a good thing. But why not then ask them for ideas for a solution. “I am not convinced your drug does X”…. you: “Interesting, what would it take to convince you?”. The solution doesn’t have to be fully baked ⎯ it can be just the beginnings of one or even a hint at one that the other advisors can build on.

Ask for Clarification

Some people are less articulate than others, but that doesn’t mean their opinions are less valid. If you don’t understand what someone said, request clarification. And keep requesting until you get what you’re looking for. In the process, you may even get the original poster to rethink their position ⎯ which will help everyone involved learn more.

We recommend presenting these “rules of play” as conspicuously as possible. You can even send them out as a separate piece of communication through your Longitudinal Expert Engagement Plan, or have them as a constant sidebar on your board’s Impetus InSite Platform®. But the more you can remind your people of them, the more constructive all the feedback you and your members receive will be.

Do you have other tips for maintaining a constructive environment? If so, add them to the comment section below.