Feedback is a Gift, if Done Correctly

Not everyone likes feedback or enjoys the process. Not all feedback is constructive. You can either take it or reject it. Yet, feedback is still a gift. As leaders, we have a responsibility to give feedback, but we also want the feedback received and appreciated. We want to do it right. The current distributed workforce situation creates a need, that is also an opportunity to make sure we become excellent at providing our Team Member's feedback. Here are some tips on Constructive Feedback.

  1. Convey your positive intent. If you have a hidden agenda, it will show in how you handle the conversation.
  2. Choose a time to deliver the feedback when the other person can listen. No need to compete with other distractions or try to talk to someone when they are too busy to hear you. If you want a meaningful conversation, set a time, send an invite, be present so the other person can also be present.
  3. Describe specifically what you have observed by being brief and to the point. No need to ‘beat around the bush’. Be specific and not emotional. Be direct and not attacking.
  4. Focus on the behavior or action and not the person. Focusing on the person is a common mistake many leaders make when addressing an issue. This causes the other person to become defensive. Use statements like, “Your behavior or your action caused or can cause…” Versus, “When you do this…”
  5. State the impact of the behavior or action but limit yourself to only one or two consequences. No need to run down a list of all the negative things that will happen if the behavior does not change; one or two is sufficient.
  6. Maintain an objective tone. Whether you are giving feedback on a performance issue, attitude, or for example dress code. Don’t judge the person.
  7. Invite a response from the other person. Do not make this a one-sided conversation. You may hear something to help you better understand the other person and gain insight into how the person thinks.
  8. Focus the discussion on the solutions. Don’t spend all your time talking about the problem. State the problem/area of focus and spend the remaining time discussing how the person can fix the problem.
  9. Listen with an open mind and summarize the other person’s key points, if necessary. Stay off the defensive. Do not excuse away the other person’s comments. Sometimes just listening and not interjecting will allow the other person to hear themselves. Assist the person with finding a solution and leave the responsibility for action with them. Meaning, you cannot change anyone. You can discuss options and even discuss consequences, but the receiver will still have to own the responsibility to make the necessary changes.

Take this opportunity the next time you are preparing to give feedback to a team member to review these notes and set your objectives for the discussion and then circle back afterwards and give yourself honest feedback on how it went – and then apply your self-suggestions to the next one. And that’s how we improve!