Peer Feedback Boosts Performance

Feedback and Performance

One powerful means for improving one’s performance and learning is getting feedback on his current performance in order to be able to act upon such feedback and improve his performance. During a training session it is crucial that the trainer provides useful and balanced feedback to trainees as he observes their performance as they go through various training activities completing numerous tasks. In addition to receiving feedback from the trainer, it is highly useful that a trainee receives feedback from his colleagues as well.

Mutual Benefit

When the trainer asks trainees to provide feedback to each other both the receiver and the provider of the feedback benefit a lot. The provider of the feedback gets a chance to carefully examine the performance of his partner and come up with conclusions in addition to communicating such conclusions to his partner. This makes him see clearly how good performance can be like and what to avoid. The trainee on the receiving end of course benefits from the feedback given to him by his partner in seeing his performance more clearly through the eyes of someone else which helps him further improve his performance next time he is carrying out a similar activity.

Positive Language

When providing feedback one has to be positive and use positive language. If the provider of feedback tries to show off his superiority by attempting to find all large and small mistakes in the performance of a trainee and expresses them in a strong negative language this may overwhelm the person receiving the feedback and totally shatter any kind of self confidence he might have had to the extent of disabling him completely from improving at all in the future in some cases. Feedback therefore must be balanced and the wording of the feedback itself should be all positive.

Graphic Facilitation

During a graphic facilitation workshop I had attended, the trainers asked participants to pair up and provide one another with feedback about their drawings. We were asked to first list 3 positive aspects of the drawings then after that mention 3 improvements that can be made. We notice here that one should always start first with the positive when providing feedback. Even when the time comes for pointing out the negative this should be done using positive words such as labeling them as “suggested improvements” rather than “mistakes” or “negative points.” Such feedback that uses all positive language not only informs the feedback receiver but also boosts his self confidence and enables him to drastically improve his performance.

Training of Trainers

When delivering training of trainers (TOT) workshops I ask participants to first list the positive points they see in demos of their colleagues then suggest improvements after that. Sometimes if the main aim is to boost trainee confidence one can ask for positive feedback only and prohibit any feedback on negative points for the time being.

Conclusion

Although receiving feedback from the trainer can be highly useful yet having trainees exchange feedback can be more so. Peer feedback also allows lots of feedback to be provided simultaneously in a short period of time in the case of pairing trainees with one another or dividing them into groups.

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Aiming for Imperfection in Training

Perfection is Unattainable

An experienced trainer never tries to aim for perfection when planning for or delivering a training session. Perfection is something illusive that should not be chased and can never be attained in training. Aiming for perfection in training would probably result in an imperfect training session anyway plus the added stress and extra effort exerted by the trainer. Instead of seeing a flexible trainer who is able to adapt instantly and deal with various circumstances a perfectionist trainer would show a great deal of rigidness and be under constant stress. Such a trainer would burn down quickly.

Developing Constantly

Aiming for perfection during planning for and delivering a training session not only consumes enormous amounts of resources from the trainer and keeps him under constant high stress but it also prevents any kind of experimentation or learning from mistakes to take place. It does not allow the trainer to develop and grow and enhance his craft gradually.

In contrast to that, a trainer who aims instead at creating a very good total effect for the training doing 90% planning for the training and delivering most of the training in high quality would have room for learning during the training session and improving after that. By leaving an amount of ‘air’ or space for some imperfection in the training planning and delivery a trainer allows himself to deliver the training without being overstressed and provides him with the agility needed to be flexible adapting to new conditions and dealing with various situations with ease and confidence while constantly developing and improving his craft as a trainer. This imperfection also reminds us of the flexible training session planning method.

Perfection from Imperfection

Aiming for perfection might be something practiced by the novice trainer yet a trainer who wants to keep on improving and developing should never aim at making each and every training session he delivers perfect. Interestingly, by not aiming for perfection a trainer keeps improving and developing thus getting closer and closer to true perfection as time goes on.

Are there situations for which the trainer should attempt to aim for perfection? What can those situations be?