Are you the King [or Queen] of feedback?

Feedback is letting people know how they are performing, and one of the most effective ways of developing your team is ensuring you ‘give and get’ regular feedback.

It’s important that you don’t assume that feedback is always about ‘telling people what they are doing wrong’, it isn’t! It’s as much about, ‘telling them what they are doing right!’

People need to know how they are performing…

They may not always want to know, or like, what they hear! But they need to know.

Likewise, if you are a manager. You need to know from them, how they are progressing, what they are feeling and any challenges they may be having.

Most managers are nervous about giving feedback, especially if it is about telling someone what they are doing wrong.

However, if you are someone who is always giving and receiving feedback then everyone will come to expect it.

So how do you give effective feedback?

Like everything, there are a few points you should consider if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting the result you want. Here’s 8 things to remember.

The first point is…

Step 1: Feedback should be a positive experience for everyone

Remember, that as a manager the reason you are giving feedback is to reinforce or improve the situation or performance of an individual. So the attitude with which you give feedback will have a huge influence on the end-result.

People respond better, if your approach is positive, and focused on improvement. If you are negative, sarcastic or condescending, then you won’t achieve the outcome you seek.

However, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a time to be angry, there is! And if it is appropriate show it. But don’t make anger your standard approach. If it is, all you will achieve is individuals who are demotivated, disillusioned and fearful of doing anything in case they incur your rage.

I believe that most people want to do well, they want to please you. But, I also believe most people are highly sensitive to being put down.

The wrong approach will get their defences up and they will go straight into justification or denial mode. And then the only thing they will take away from the conversation will be the negative.

The second thing to remember when giving feedback is…

Step 2: Timing is everything…

Sometimes it is not appropriate to give someone immediate feedback. As a rule though, ‘the closer the feedback is to the event, the better’, by doing that the facts aren’t distorted by the passing of time. 

The exception to this is, if people have become emotionally charged. If that is the case it is best to allow a little time to let everyone cool off, then it is less likely to result in someone saying or doing something that is later regretted.

The third thing to remember is…

Step 3: Don’t store it up…

Giving constructive feedback is not about storing up all this ‘stuff’ to unleash on some poor unsuspecting soul. You don’t want to attack and demoralise anyone, so don’t store it up, deal with it when and as things happen.

The fourth thing is…

Step 4: Think it through, and stick to the facts

It’s easy to be spontaneous and casual when giving people positive feedback.

However, when you are dealing with an issue that involves letting someone know that something is unsatisfactory and needs to change, you need to be more prepared.

Think through what you will say in advance. This will keep you focused on the issue at hand and not let you get sidetracked. Stick to the facts and don’t make sweeping generalisations.

The fifth thing to remembers is…

Step 5: Praise in public, criticise in private

Use every opportunity to reinforce positive behaviour or results in front of clients or colleagues.

The opposite applies if you are giving constructive criticism of someone’s performance or behaviour, that should always be done in private. Making people feel inadequate by humiliating them in front of their colleagues will achieve nothing positive.

The sixth point to remember is…

Step 6: If nothing changes …nothing changes

Set clear next steps and expectations of the changes in the behaviours and results that you expect to see.

If you are the manager, your job is to provide clear direction as to what needs to be done to address the situation.

The crux of the message should be that you are there to help them grow and develop, and that you will do whatever you can to help, but that, ‘you can’t do it for them.’

The seventh step is…

Step 7: Follow up

There is no point in having a little ‘Pow-Wow’ with people if nothing changes afterwards.

When the purpose of feedback is to improve performance, it is essential that there is follow-up to ensure that the required ‘change’ is being followed through, and that there is improved performance as a result.

And finally the 8th step is…

Step 8: Tick all the boxes

Last step in the process is to document your conversations and keep a record of what has been agreed, what is working and what needs to be modified.

Giving people feedback on how they are performing in their job shouldn’t be confined to an annual appraisal. It is essential that you are constantly giving feedback, that you notice everything and comment all the time.

That way any problems never get out of hand, and there are no surprises.

2 responses to “Are you the King (or Queen) of feedback?”

  1. Simon Barr says:

    I love this one Antony! Only thing I would add which I was waiting for was the old 6 to 1 ratio. I’ve spoken about this rule so many times in my salons and specifically to my management team that I thought the 6 to 1 was universally known. (I can’t remember where I got this rule from either). Basically the rule is you may only give constructive/ corrective (or what some might say more negative) feedback when you have completed your 6 shots of positive feedback. I find that this rule really helps the culture of the team because it forces the leaders to catch people doing something good! In fact they need to do this 6 times before qualifying for the 1 corrective feedback session. Changes their perspective. Even better what it does from the team members perspective is that they become a willing receptor for the constructive feedback. I mean why wouldn’t they – they’re being told all this great stuff on a regular basis and now being offered some constructive feedback – they generally welcome it with open arms. I hope you like my comment and thanks again for all your fabulous podcasts.

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