Forget the seven deadly sins – these are the seven ‘wins’ around great feedback…

The latest from our #SRIFutureReadyTalent series gives some actionable tips on giving feedback

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Looking for feedback and processing information to improve is one of 4 key elements in assessing leadership potential. In addition, a key derailer to success is being closed or defensive when challenged/given critical feedback (Source: Columbia University centre for creative leadership & Learning Agility). Feedback is serious business – both how you give it and how you receive it, so how can we get it right?

1. Be timely. close to the event

Give feedback as close to the event as possible. It just won’t land if you bottle it all up and wait for the next performance review. In the moment feedback is powerful. Of course, if it has an element of criticism – ensure it’s done in private (praise in public, criticize in private). There is no room for ‘calling out’ in public behaviour – that stays back in the nineties…

2. Why are you giving feedback? What’s the motive?​

Think carefully, what is our motive behind giving this feedback. Do you want to reinforce an employee’s value? Do you want help change a certain behaviour? Do you need to highlight non-compliance to a certain procedure? If you don’t have a specific motive, don’t give it as it’s likely around making you feel better about something rather than genuinely helping your colleague.

3. Use I – this is your feedback – own it! What I have noticed is…..​

You cannot hide behind “we” or ‘people have said.’ You must own your words, they have power. By using I, you will ensure that you have thought about and are comfortable with what you are about to say.

4. Be specific about what they did well or could have done better​

‘That was great’ is a nice thing to hear – but it is not very helpful in terms of performance. Why was it great? Their ability to handle a conflict calmly, their ability to think on their feet? Were you pleased with how early the report arrived and that it had a greater level of insight? Details matter.

5. Discuss the impact that this has had on the project, team, company goals etc.​

Bring it to life: “Your efforts to bring onboard our first technology partner will have a significant impact on our ability to provide excellent service to our customers this year. That directly relates to a key priority for the business.” 

Show the impact (good or bad) that the action has had.

6. Make it frequent ​

Coaches don’t set a training programme for an athlete and check in a year later. While annual reviews are important, frequent feedback makes all the difference.

7. Ask for feedback as well as give it – show your vulnerability and demonstrate that it is okay to ask and give feedback.

It takes time and courage for leaders to cultivate a culture of feedback – we must set an example. 

Finally .. Matthew Syed, author of Black Box Thinking (worthy of a read…) sums it up perfectly…

Feedback is at the heart of how we improve and grow… our approach to feedback, our fears of feedback, how we embrace or ignore feedback, and ultimately how humanity relies on feedback, to learn and improve.

To continue the conversion on #SRIFutureReadyTalent, take a look at how we worked with a global media organisation to help them improve performance and diversity or read our article on avoiding the war for talent.

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