5 Easy Steps to Fabulous Feedback

Once in my career, my “boss” wrote my annual review in pencil. Yes, seriously. There was very little feedback on the actual form and when pressed, I learned he wrote it in the 15 minutes before I arrived in his office for our meeting. I felt devalued and like I was wasting my time. My trust was completely blown and my respect for him dropped immensely. The same person whose lips were saying, “I really want to see you succeed, how can I help?” was showing me through his actions that there was no intention to follow through.

As leaders, it is essential for us to “get it right” when it comes to coaching and mentoring others in our organization. These may be peers, direct reports, or even our superiors, as the need to manage up is crucial for our success. Giving positive, constructive feedback is key. I don’t mean the “pat on the back variety.” I mean real, meaningful feedback that allows the individual to truly know how they are doing, what can be done better, and celebrate specific successes.

When you are giving feedback in an annual review, or in the moment, be sure to use the following steps to maximize the value for the individual receiving it also for you.

  • Be specific—provide specific examples of actions and behaviors that attributed to the outcomes. Balance the positive and the negative as much as possible. Avoid judgment in your specifics. Just the facts “ma’am.” And be genuine in your approach.
  • Be timely—in an annual review, be careful of focusing only on events that have occurred recently. Instead, be sure you have collected successes and challenges from throughout the year. This should not be the first time your report should be hearing about either positive or negative situations. The annual review is a round-up; a time to review the progress being made. Feedback on performance should be ongoing to avoid surprises and maximize the opportunity for learning and growing.
  • Show courage and compassion—don’t dance around if you are delivering difficult feedback to an individual. Get right to the point and offer suggestions for how improvements can be made. This provides the individual with hope and moves them into thinking about the future instead of the past. Make sure you affirm the talents and skills of the individual. Equally important for leaders is to not fool yourself. Do not excuse poor behavior or performance. You may need to show courage and compassion by cutting your losses. This can be freedom producing for both you and the individual.
  • Be sincere and honest without demoralizing the person—empty praise is easy and just…well…empty. Likewise, words like “always” and “never” will lose your audience and they will not be able to see through their defensive lens. Do not go on the attack. This isn’t about putting someone in their place. Feedback is about helping someone rise to be a better version of themselves.
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare—It is critical to spend some time thinking about what really needs to be said and the best way to say it. Ask yourself how you would receive the information presented they way you are considering? Do you need to make some adjustments? Are there extenuating circumstances that will make it easier or more difficult to hear feedback at this time?

Quality feedback increases trust, accelerates results, and ultimately impacts the bottom line. Great leaders have a gift for giving timely, effective feedback that moves those they are mentoring/coaching to the next level as they incorporate changes in their behaviors and performance practices.

To fully assess your current competence in Coaching and Mentoring Others and create a personalized development plan, contact the Institute for Social +Emotional Intelligence at Hello@The-ISEI.com or go to our website www.The-ISEI.com to learn more.

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