Five Keys to Giving Effective Feedback

One of the most common complaints I have received from employees about their manager is that they don’t receive enough feedback. In this video I’m going to share five keys that will help you deliver effective feedback.


First, a little about giving feedback in general

Before I get into the five elements, I want to talk a little bit about feedback in general. I think some managers get caught up in thinking that feedback only can be delivered in a formal setting or at a time when there’s a specific issue to address. Both of those situations will get you in trouble because we want feedback to be delivered all the time, every day,  any time of day, and formally or informally. We also want it to be about things of the individual does well, as well as things that we want them to improve upon.

When we have that kind of open relationship with the ongoing dialogue about the work all the time it actually makes more difficult conversations so much easier because you’ve set the groundwork for having that kind of relationship already. Some managers will ask me should I only deliver good feedback alongside bad feedback? How do I manage the balance of that? I don’t want you to get crazy with any kind of fake ratios. You know, “if I have some feedback to deliver of an improvement then I need to give two times that of good.” No, don’t do that.

Let’s talk about these five keys that will help you deliver feedback successfully.

1. Discuss the performance and not the person

The first key is to discuss the performance and not the person. In other words, if something goes awry we want to isolate the behavior or the action that was the issue and not make a judgment about the person or their motives relative to it. What was the outcome that was the problem? This helps protect their self-esteem which is really critical and delivering good feedback.

2. Be specific

The second key to giving good feedback is to be specific. Rather than saying something like great job, Sue, you want to elaborate on the situation. So, for example, you could say “Sue, your participation in this morning’s meeting was instrumental in helping our team get through that tough topic. You were proactive and offering your views. You were actively listening to the objections of others and yet still facilitating the conversation that got us to consensus. Thank you so much!” Now Sue has a real absolute, concrete idea of what went well in that scenario and that is being specific.

3. Be timely in your delivery

The next key is to be timely in your delivery. There’s only one exception and that is when you find yourself so upset that you need to step back, take a deep breath and regain your composure so that you’re objective when you’re delivering your feedback. That might vary from five seconds to five minutes or an hour. The exact time isn’t critical. You don’t want to wait too long, but you do want to make sure you’re not upset.

4. Pick a great location

The next key, the fourth key, is to pick of great location for this. Usually you’re giving feedback in private, but not always. You certainly might want to give public recognition to someone about recognizing a specific accomplishment that they did and that would be very appropriate.

5. Focus on the future

The fifth key to delivering effective feedback is to focus on the future. Remember that our goal in delivering feedback is to maintain or improve or change behavior that we’ve seen. That’s for the future, so we don’t want to dwell in the past. When delivering feedback make sure the component includes an action plan and a way that the employee can be thinking about how to make these modifications.

Take this challenge

Find one employee and offer feedback to him or her on something that they’ve done using these five keys and make it a routine.

Be sure to check out other videos in the Learning Resource Center available to you as a member. Here’s to your graceful leadership.

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