Feedback is an investment in relationship.Dr. Cedar Barstow, Right Use of Power
The ability to give and receive effective feedback is one of the most important leadership (indeed, relationship) skills that we can develop. It’s an essential component of the “Right Use of Power” model, which we use as a framework for all of our coaching and communication programs.
Watch the quick video (1:21) for five tips and strategies for making your feedback more effective, and scroll down to read (~2 mins) more detailed strategies and conversation starters!Interested in learning more? Get instant access to our free Essentials of Feedback webinar!
#5 Ask first!
Asking the other person “how” or “when” they’d like to receive feedback, BEFORE you have tough or constructive feedback for them, will provide a doorway that’s easier to walk through when you need it.
Pro tip: If you know you’re going to be working closely with someone, make a point to have a conversation early in the relationship that starts something like this: “I know that at some point we might have to have a tough or uncomfortable conversation about something one of us says or does. Do you have any preferences about how we go about having those conversations?”
#4 Make it Real
Be as concrete as possible when describing the behaviours that you’re giving feedback about.
“I noticed that you’re really slacking off this week” is not good feedback, as it’s loaded up with judgment and interpretations of someone else’s behaviour, filtered through YOUR values and perspective.
“John, I noticed that for the past 4 days you’ve been arriving ~30 minutes late for your shift” is an observation based on data. Use data and pure observations whenever possible.
#3 Be Specific
“John, can you please communicate better?” is a bad request, as “communicate better” is entirely subjective and too general to be actionable.
“John, would you be willing to check in with me by text if you’re going to be running late for your shift?” is better because it provides a very specific task in a specific circumstance (text when running late).
#2 Be Compassionate
Feedback is meant to be a gift, an investment in relationship.
In order for it to be experienced as a gift (and not a demand for change or a threat), it needs to be delivered as compassionately as possible.
Compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.
Recognizing that John might be late for work because his 2-year old is teething, or his partner is struggling, or his car broke down and he’s walking to work…an accurate understanding of the other person’s perspective on the issue is essential for finding a mutually beneficial solution.
#1 Make it Meaningful
More often than not, our feedback says as much about US, and what we find to be meaningful, than it does about the specific actions and behaviours that we are wanting to give feedback about.
In order to make our feedback meaningful (and ultimately useful), we need to know what the other person cares about, values or is hoping for. Feedback falls into two categories;
Congruent: giving positive feedback and praise because someone’s actions and behaviours are congruent with their (or the team’s) values and goals.
Incongruent: providing constructive feedback when someone’s acting incongruently with either their values and goals, or the teams.