A key principle to keep in mind when giving effective feedback is to do so in a timely manner. Feedback only helps the recipient if they have an opportunity to do something about it. It’s difficult to change a specific behaviour if a project’s finished or the feedback comes a year later.
If someone gives you the gift of feedback and you agree upon actions, seek the nearest opportunity to apply it. Applying the actions immediately reinforces the value of feedback. When the feedback donor sees a change in behaviour, they see that it helped the recipient become more effective. Applying it sooner than later creates opportunities for the donor to give new feedback, focused on strengthening confidence and encouraging more of the desired behaviours. More than helping the donor realise the value in their feedback, the agreed upon actions should help improve or continue the recipients’ effectiveness in what context they are working in.
As an example, when you’re out skiing, applying actions from feedback will improve your effectiveness the most by applying it immediately. It may take some time to master it, to change conscious behaviour but it’s only useful if you do it while you’re on the slopes, not when you’re back from your skiing holiday.
Remember that not executing on actions immediately has other negative effects. Not doing anything about agreed upon actions sends a message that you don’t value the feedback, decreasing the likelihood the donor will give any feedback in the future (whether or not its focused on Strengthening Confidence or Improving Effectiveness). Not applying the actions immediately also makes it easier to forget what behaviour needs to change and it will be harder to get affirmation about if your effectiveness has improved.
Photo taken from Sunflower Dave’s Flickr stream under the Creative Commons licence