One of the secrets to getting great results from your people is to learn the skill of giving powerful, effective feedback.There are three types of feedback I observe when I work with my clients: â€œthe Good, the Bad and the Uglyâ€!
And there are three main problems that I notice with feedback. They are that Good feedback is often not given, Bad feedback can often be hard to give and Ugly feedback is often given at the wrong time or for inappropriate reasons.
To be effective, feedback (whether it is positive or negative) needs to be timely and it should always relate to an action or behavior rather than the person. Feedback about behaviors or actions is powerful and effective because it reinforces desired behaviors so they can be repeated in future, while other actions or behaviors can be modified in future.
Powerful feedback places the action or behavior in the context of a specific situation or task and links it to a result. If the feedback is corrective, it specifies an alternative action or behavior that would produce a different preferred result.
A simple example of good positive feedback could be:
â€œJan – Yesterday when you were walking through the foyer I saw you clear away some rubbish that had been left there by someone else. Thank you. A clean entrance makes a far better impression on our visitors and clients than a messy one.â€
An example of effective corrective feedback might be:
â€œChris – Yesterday after you finished your lunch you were distracted by a phone call and you left your lunch wrappers in the foyer, which creates a poor impression for our visitors or clients when they arrive. Please take care to put your rubbish in the bin in future. That will keep the entry clean so we make a good impression for our visitors and clients.â€
Feedback like this needs to be given to Chris promptly. If it is delayed for so long the situation or incident has been forgotten, it will be less effective. The feedback would be inappropriate if it was expressed as a criticism of Chris personally, for example, â€œYou are a messy personâ€ rather than as a criticism of an action or behavior.
Inappropriate (Ugly) feedback such as â€œyou are messyâ€ is dis-empowering and frustrating, because we canâ€™t change who we are. It destroys morale and erodes results as well as being ineffective.
Feedback about our actions or behaviors is effective, empowering and helpful, because we can change our actions if necessary, or repeat them if appropriate.
Positive (Good) feedback should be shared generously. It is a powerful motivation, reinforcing the types of behavior you are keen to see repeated.
Corrective (Bad) feedback should be given promptly and sensitively. Ensure you give it in private and in a supportive, direct and open manner. Focus on the action or behavior that that needs modifying or correcting and describe exactly what actions and results you expect in the future.
Given appropriately and regularly, corrective feedback is a valuable learning tool and without it none of us can get better at what we do.
A good leader taps the power of effective feedback to motivate and coach people to great results. If you are generous with positive feedback while you are clear and consistent with corrective feedback you will be delighted with the value effective feedback delivers.
More on how to improve your feedback in the Quick Tips below:
QUOTE OF NOTE
â€œAnything you are good at contributes to happiness.â€
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
QUICK TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK
* Catch people doing something right as often as you can so you can deliver positive feedback â€œon the spotâ€ in just a few words.
* While positive feedback might be delivered in public, negative or correctional feedback should always be delivered in private in a calm and sensitive manner.
* Think of feedback as fine-tuning. Try to establish a habit of giving your people more frequent feedback about smaller tasks, actions or behaviors, rather than waiting for a problem to grow into something huge.
* When you do need to deliver corrective feedback be direct and firm. Donâ€™t apologize, make excuses or â€œbeat around the bushâ€ before you get to your point. Explain the situation or context, describe the unacceptable behavior and its results and say what will be acceptable in the future with the results you expect that will follow.
* Donâ€™t invite discussion or drag out your comments when you deliver corrective feedback. If the action or behavior is not acceptable, thatâ€™s all there is to it. Check that you were understood and move on.
* Bear in mind that in some circumstances you may need to offer your people training, coaching or support to change their actions or behavior, just as you may need practice in giving more effective feedback before you always get it right.
*** Do you have any questions about effective feedback?
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BOOKS ON FEEDBACK WORTH READING –
Effective Feedback: A Guide for Caring Professionals by Irwin M. Rubin and Thomas J. Campbell
Fast Feedback, Second Edition
by Bruce Tulgan
Giving and Receiving Performance Feedback
by Peter R. Garber