Feedback: Not a Dirty Word

Jan 16, 2019 | Accelerate, Leadership Lounge

In the business world, people love to hear positive feedback when they work hard and constructive feedback to improve. You may understand WHY feedback is important. And you may see what happens when you do or don’t give valuable feedback. But do you know HOW to give feedback? Do you understand what to say and how to say it to maintain the integrity of your relationships?

Good news, our Accendo team can help improve your feedback skills. Some of these may be intuitive and some may take practice, but keep trying and you will reap the benefits of increased performance, improved relationships, and more positive business outcomes.

Feedback at its best: What to do.

Be consistent
  • Feedback motivates dedicated employees. Set up time that is sacred for each direct report and honor that time. Showing you care keeps them focused and caring as well.
  • Create a new norm. Provide feedback in the same manner and during the same timeframe each month. Your direct reports can apply the feedback throughout the month and the cadence will allow for increased trust and easier feedback sessions each time.
Be direct and honest
  • Know your intentions. Why? If you have good intentions in WHY you are giving this feedback, and the employee shares that feeling of safety and trust (help this person grow, help them improve performance or impact), then that “tone” and spirit will come across – even if the feedback is tough.
  • Let THEM talk first. Why? Most likely, they will say all the feedback you want to give. Allowing them to talk first creates a safe environment of conversation versus a need to reflect or defend.
  • Ask what they think:
    • What’s working well
    • What areas they need help
    • Where do they want to improve
Be generous

If you are generous with positive and specific feedback that is authentic, you will build trust. And you know trust is key to any relationship.
Our team advocates an 80/20 Rule: if you give positive feedback to a person (or a team) 80% of the time, and critical/tough feedback 20%, then you are most likely pretty balanced as it relates to generous AND providing the critical feedback that is needed to correct, push, and grow your team.

Be positive

We have met leaders who believed that if all is good in the world, nothing needs to be said. This is not true. Silence can be as stifling as yelling. People thrive knowing they are doing well and how to improve. See a few conversation starters below that you can practice and make your own to immediately improve your feedback skills:

  • Let’s stop and gather our thoughts to discuss what just happened so we can understand how to prevent that from happening again.
  • What are ways the PROCESS broke down? (process/procedures first)
  • What are the ways our team (or teamwork) didn’t deliver to expectations?
  • What might you have done differently?
  • What will you do to prevent this from happening again?
  • How can I help?
  • I want to tell you something you did that really made a positive impact on our team.

Feedback at its worst: What not to do.

Have feedback amnesia

Feedback that comes too late or not at all. Timing is critical for growth and development. Example: Something went wrong, and people are upset. But wait, you are on to the next meeting? Then everyone forgets “why” you were so upset, and worse, you justify the entire scenario. Why? Because tough conversations are hard. But without them, relationships become strained and trust erodes. 

Perform annual reviews

Stop doing annual reviews. Just stop. Doesn’t matter how fancy and deep you go, once a year for feedback is truly human capital malpractice. Feedback should be in the moment – a cause and effect. The only effect a once-a-year review will cause is someone’s disengagement (at best) and looking for a job (most likely scenario).

Convey emotional or inaccurate information

Personal attacks and accusations don’t constitute as feedback. This approach becomes emotional sabotage and undermines your credibility. If you cannot be calm and mature, then don’t have a conversation about the topic.

Disguise criticism as feedback

Feedback is constructive in nature and provides guidance and direction on how to improve a problem or situation. Criticizing without offering any real or meaningful solutions is mean-spirited and will create conflict.

Feedback: Hierarchy Aside

Remember, feedback is not based on hierarchy. If done well, you can (and should) give feedback to ANYONE. The healthiest – and we are comfortable to say, the most successful – are those organizations where feedback is a leading expectation of being a part of that high performing team. 

Practice these ideas with your own style and personality. Action creates patterns and patterns create new habits. So, is 2019 going to be the Best of You? We think so.

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