After last week’s article “The One Thing I Learnt About Asking for Feedback…” I thought it timely to write about the importance of delivering feedback effectively.
In most organisations that I deal with, “feedback” is something that is delivered during a performance review. That’s a 6 month or annual opportunity to feedback on an individual’s performance. This is crazy – I need an app to remind me to pick up my dry cleaning every Monday! How are we expected to remember our colleague’s great skills and behaviours, or their potential areas for growth, if we only talk about them months after they have occurred?
This behaviour also allows things to fester. Small issues become big ones, mole hills become mountains.
So my first (but actually second most important) tip for giving feedback is little and often. It doesn’t need to be a “sit down in my office” type approach – it is about providing regular, timely feedback to help an individual wherever we can. And be specific. “Great work lately” is not good feedback. Talk about specific behaviours, projects, meetings etc where our colleague has performed well or could improve.
Before I reveal the most important piece of advice for giving feedback, let’s first look at a framework for delivering feedback:
1) Ask for permission – especially when delivering negative feedback
2) Consider the other’s emotions – show empathy
3) Don’t assume you have the answers – provide suggestions but it’s ultimately their choice on which path to take
4) Distinguish between fact and opinion – facts are there to support the way WE perceive a particular event in time and our opinions are just that. OURS.
Finally, the most effective thing I have learnt about giving feedback is… cultivating a “developmental mindset”. That is, we need to approach each and every opportunity to feedback with the mindset of “I want to help this person.” This is the opposite to a “selfish mindset” where we are giving feedback because an outcome or solution does not suit us. A developmental mindset is the key to having a winning culture of feedback within an organisation. So stop yourself next time you are going to give feedback and make a conscious decision to give it from the perspective of one awesome human looking to help and develop another awesome human.