Mastering the Art of Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is a delicate art that, when done correctly, can significantly enhance performance. It’s a common scenario: you’re about to give feedback, and you’re feeling uncomfortable, like you’re tiptoeing through a minefield. This is because a lot of how we learned to give feedback it to talk at the person, rather than with them.

Traditional communication methods often start with one of two approaches. The ‘soft’ approach, laden with praise before the inevitable ‘but,’ only serves to activate defensive barriers. The ‘hard’ approach, devoid of any cushioning, can breed resentment and a tit-for-tat mentality.

The key to giving feedback starts by leveraging what you know of the individual’s aspirations and how they wish to be seen. It’s rare to find someone eager to fail; most strive for success but may become disruptors when they miss the mark.

Use Outcome Thinking® to focus on facts, not opinions, and frame changes as beneficial to the individual’s goals. When doing this, you elevate their accountability, respect, and trust. When faced with deflection, like Cherie blaming team dynamics and shifting blame to others, steer the conversation back to her leadership role with a firm, “Cherie, today’s focus is on your leadership, not the team. Let’s concentrate on that.”

Wrap up with a clear summary of the agreed actions and a follow-up plan to close any loopholes in accountability. This approach to giving feedback not only promotes improvement but also fosters a culture of constructive dialogue and mutual growth.