How to give Better Feedback!
What’s your approach to delivering feedback?
Is it the straight up right between the eyes approach? Or do you go with the ‘feedback sandwich’ with the constructive/bad news stuck in the middle either side of some positives? Or maybe it’s something different?
Studies show that a team’s excellence and individuals performance rests very much its ability to give and receive very high-quality feedback, constantly. But so very often, the feedback fails to have an impact or provide actionable steps to move forward. Why is this the case?
It all comes down to the mindset of the person giving the feedback.
In most cases, the person giving the feedback feels like they have to solve a problem that the receiver has. They have gathered information from a few sources and are now relaying this in an effort to provide a solution. This is one of the major flaws with feedback. In truth, you only have half the story.
The human brain has an enormous capacity not only to not see the whole picture but also to not notice that it hasn’t seen the whole picture. Daniel Kahneman, the famous psychologist, calls this the “what you see is all there is” phenomenon. Where we all race into problem solving mode with only the data on front of you. Sound familiar?
This is just one example of many on feedback. The feedback givers mindset, for whatever reason, typically is one of telling and solving. How to make this better? Bring a learning mindset to feedback.
If you’re holding half the story, why not ask the receiver to share their knowledge. Give them the opportunity to talk about the situations raised in an open non-judgemental way. This is the first step to getting to the real truth. You’re opening up a learning environment.
Next, practice listening to what they have to say (using active and/or empathic approaches – see post day 19 here). People enjoy being listened to and it builds trust.
Finally, make this feedback session a conversation. A two-way street. So that the receiver really feels like they’ve added their inputs to the session and their voice is valued. By doing so and giving them the opportunity to create their own actions & next steps, the chances of improvement increase exponentially.
To reference Daniel Kahneman again, our brains are predominately lazy. In an effort to save energy, we look for the easy way out most of the time. This can be very true when giving feedback. You accept the information you gathered as truth instead of using it as half the reality. If even that much!
While giving powerful feedback takes effort, the good news is that it’s a skill and it can be developed. It’s something you can work on with practice. And with end of year performance reviews coming up for many organizations, what better opportunity to put this into practice than now!
Remember though, feedback should not be just for Christmas/End of Year Reviews! It’s an all year-round activity. The gift that keeps on giving!
PS – thanks to those of you kind enough to connect in and provide feedback to me on the blogging over the last few weeks and the podcast work. I love getting it and always try to learn from it.
Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!
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