The trainer should end each training day with a feedback circle. Seated in a circle, participants start providing feedback to the trainer on the training day. The feedback should be in a structured form. Each participant should start by mentioning one positive thing he liked most about the day and then follow that with one suggestion for improvement. It is crucial that the trainer guides the participant so as not to merely mention what he did not like, but rather mention it in the form of a suggestions. This is a better and more positive way to provide feedback and encourages the participant to suggest solutions rather than just complain.
Feedback is not just for use at the end of every training day. Feedback can also be used after participants give presentations. The feedback is not only given by the trainer but also by the other participants. The trainer must make sure the feedback provided by the other participants is given in a balanced way. The best way to insure that is for the trainer to start by asking for positive feedback, what has been done well then ask for suggestions, what can be improved.
Participant to Trainer
At the end of every training day, the trainer should ask participants for their feedback. As mentioned above, feedback should be taken in a balanced way asking for both positive points as well as suggestions for improvement.
It is important that the trainer emphasize that negative points should be mentioned as suggestions. The trainer may assist participants in following such guideline by guiding them to start the second part of their feedback with "I suggest ..." in order to save them from falling into the habitual trap of just pointing out negative aspects they did not like without offering of solutions.
It is important that the trainer not become defensive when participants mention any suggestions to solve things they did not like. The trainer should just listen attentively when he hears such feedback. The trainer should not interfere with feedback provided by participants nor try to defend himself but just listen in silence without offering a defense except in cases where silence might lead to wrong information being kept in participant minds, this is the only case where the trainer should step in, not with the intention to defend himself, but rather aiming at correcting otherwise wrong information.
Getting feedback from participants is one of the greatest tools a trainer can use to develop himself and his training program along time. The positive points mentioned by participants provide the trainer with a higher degree of confidence and make him aware of the power of his methods and content. This also helps the trainer prioritize the various components of his training program as he gets to know which ones are the more important ones. As for participant suggestions, it is a great way to know what can be done to develop the training program further and make it better. Thus both the positive points and the suggestions enable the trainer to expand and evolve his training program to make it better and better every time he conducts it.
Not only is the feedback great for future rounds of the training program but feedback can even help the trainer improve the training on the flay in each training day. For instance a suggestion mentioned by participants in the first training day can make the trainer make changes for the second training day that would make participants happy. Such instant adaptation according to the requests of participants makes participants feel they were really heard and makes them appreciate the trainer. It is important however to point out to participants, before they provide their feedback, that the trainer might attempt to implement some of their suggestions of possible but does not guarantee he will implement everything mentioned.
Participant to Participant
One of the training activities are presentations done by participants during the training. After such presentations the rest of the participants may provide feedback to the participant who was presenting. The trainer again asks participants to provide feedback in a balanced way starting with the positive then going on with suggestions for improvement. It is a good idea that the trainer first allows all participants to mention the positive points then when they are all done the trainer then asks for their suggestions. This is usually better than having each participant say both the positive points and the suggestions as the former method provides a boost of confidence that makes the participant who is listening to the feedback on his presentation more confident and more open to suggestions.
It is essential that the trainer guard against negative feedback turning into a way for the participant giving the feedback to show off his superiority. The participant giving the feedback should have the intention of benefiting his colleague rather than trying to show off his knowledge. He should give the feedback not as a superior but as a receiver of knowledge from the presenter.
Feedback from participants to participants does not only benefit the one receiving the feedback but also those providing it. By letting participants know that they will be providing feedback on the presentation done by their colleague they become highly focused during the presentation and very attentive. This has the added benefit increasing participant engagement. Had they been only passive listeners they might not have giving their presenting colleague much of their attention. But since they know they will have a chance to provide their feedback on his performance, they become really focused and attentive. Their senses and mind become sharper and they keep processing what they see and hear and thinking of what they will be saying during the feedback. This process in itself is highly useful for participants because it enables them to critique the performance they are witnessing and thus become aware of what is good to do and what should be avoided. This heightened awareness can result in better performance when they themselves get to present and it also improves their performance after the training program.
Trainer to Participant
Even when participants receive feedback from other participants they tend to want to listen to the feedback of the trainer. They value and respect the trainer and feel that his feedback is the final word and real test of their performance. Therefore it is a good idea that the trainer also provides his feedback on the performance of participants.
The trainer may decide to only mention the positive points at first. In later presentations by the participant the trainer may follow the positive points with one or two suggestions. It is bad practice that the trainer would shower the participant with all the mistakes he has done and all his shortcomings at once. This might risk killing the self confidence of the participant and making it virtually impossible for him to gain it once again. It is thus best for the trainer to only point to one or two things that can be improved and how to improve them. This will not only help maintain the self confidence of the participant in his abilities but would also help him focus on one or two things only and work on improving them which would certainly provide way better results than had he been bombarded with a ton of things to tray to improve at once. Diluted efforts do not result in great performance.
Positive feedback given by the trainer to a participant provides him with a boost of confidence. Suggestions for improvement focus the energize of the participant on specific points. A trainer has more experience than participants in the topic he is conducing training in and therefore should use such experience to guide his participants to better performance.