Tips from TSE: Ask these questions before giving feedback

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 14, 2008

There are several important questions to ask yourself before providing feedback to learners:

1. "Why am I giving feedback?" Be cognizant of the exact message you want to send and the results you hope to see.

2. "To whom am I giving feedback?" Many times, you are giving feedback directly to an employee, but there may be situations where you want to get the manager involved, says Bari K. Platter, MS, RN, CNS, clinical nurse specialist and educator in the psychiatric services department at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, CO. "It's important to think about who needs to be there and who needs to hear it."

3. "When should I give the feedback?" Sometimes you want to give the feedback right at the moment, such as when you notice a nurse using an incorrect technique during patient care. But in a heated situation, you might want to wait to give feedback at a later time.  "If you are angry and can't be neutral, or if a nurse is very upset about a mistake, it's not a good time," says Platter. "You want it to be a learning experience, not a punitive one."

4. "Where should I give feedback?" "As educators, we sometimes forget how embarrassing it is for nurses to get feedback in front of others," says Mitzi Grey, MEd, RN, BC, president of Grey & Company, Inc. Share feedback in private and in a neutral environment (such as a conference room) so that staff members feel they can express their feelings on an issue.

5. "What is the potential outcome of the feedback?" Consider the possible ramifications of the feedback, such as the decision to put the employee on an educational plan to improve performance. "Again, you'd want the manager involved in something like that," says Platter.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the November issue of The Staff Educator. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to The Staff Educator!


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