Giving Feedback Skillfully

During my IDEAS+LEADERS podcast conversations with top business leaders and leadership consultants, I am often speaking about the importance of introducing the culture of honesty, openness and constant feedback if we want to create high-achieving teams.

But how to give the information on the team’s behavior, attitude and progress towards the KPIs, maintaining good personal relationships at the same time?

Set goals

Well, first of all, we need to make sure that the objectives are set clearly – everyone needs to know what EXACTLY is expected from them. By setting such performance expectations, we have a standard towards which we can evaluate someone’s performance.

Focus on positives

Make sure to give not only negative, but positive feedback as well. Focus on the positives. What does the person do well? What are their talents? Are they hard-working? Ambitious? Positive? Notice everything that you like about their performance, because that will make it much easier for you to share what does not meet expectations. And it will be easier for them to accept the negative feedback as well.

Provide immediate feedback

The feedback should be given immediately after (or even during) poor performance. Imagine if a football coach would tell players what they should do differently only after the game – would it help teams’ performance? Definitely not! The longer time you take before delivering praise or criticism, the lower will be its effectiveness.

Be specific

Always be specific when giving feedback. What behavior are you referring to exactly? If you are too vague in your feedback, the information can be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Add specific details about the situation and the behavior that you are referring to to make your feedback more effective.

Speak about yourself

Make sure that the feedback you are giving is from your own perspective and point of view. Avoid saying “Everyone thinks..” or “Everyone says..”. Instead, speak about your own perception of the situation: “I noticed that..” or “I am worried about..”.

Also, always use “I statements” instead of “You statements”. Instead of “You did it wrong..” or “You were late..” say “I noticed that the numbers are not correct” or “I am worried that we are not going to meet the deadline”. Do you see how it changes the message? Speaking about your emotions helps a lot as well – focus on how the unwanted behavior made you feel. Were you stressed? Worried? Confused? Mention that!

End on a positive note

Conclude the feedback discussion positively. Use the statement of appreciation or praise. Make sure to avoid the typical “sandwich” like my friend once described it: “Everything is great. You were awful. But everything is great.” People hate that. They know that you are saying positive things just to make them feel good. 

What we can do here is to make the feedback relevant for them personally, for their career and personal development. How will the change in behavior contribute to their career? How will it make them feel? How will it influence their future in the company? Make it personal and sincere and express confidence in their ability to improve.

Recognize improvement

Observe the performance after feedback and make sure to praise the team member after even slightest improvement. After reinforcing the desired behavior several times, it is more likely that it is going to change in the long run. If improvement doesn’t happen, provide the feedback again. Make sure to always provide feedback during 1-1 conversations in order to ensure comfort and privacy. 

Providing feedback skillfully will help you to build effective high-performing teams and achieve your goals much easier and faster. 

If you want to introduce the culture of openness and honesty in your team – let’s schedule an appointment to discuss how I can support you with it.