Giving Effective Feedback

gold stars on pink blue backdrop

Have you ever been in a situation where you have someone in your team that you see as not performing but don't know how to address it? How about someone who keeps asking you how they are doing? What about a person who you give some constructive feedback to gets offended? Sometimes, giving feedback can backfire and go unappreciated. In most cases, there are some common issues:

  1. Generic/bland/non-specific feedback. You think you recognise people by saying 'You are doing a great job'. The problem is that it is not helpful – Which areas are they specifically doing a good job in? What behaviours do you appreciate most? Which situations did they do a good job in, and what was the impact? Answering these questions will help people understand they can and should do more.
  2. Lack of positive feedback. No news is not good news; contrarily, it is generally bad news. 'Do they not appreciate me? I work my butt off and don't get any positive feedback.' Generally, the rule of thumb is at least one to five pieces of positive feedback to one piece of development feedback. The human brain goes to what is wrong 70 percent of the time, so we must train ourselves to look out for the positives and not take them for granted.
  3. Putting off development feedback. Sometimes, if a leader is afraid of how the feedback will land, fear causes them to put it off until they can do it together in a formal setting. All this does is allow the person to repeat the wrong behaviour, potentially worsening the situation.

So what can you do?

Firstly, get into the habit of looking out for positives. If you have a bi-weekly meeting with your direct reports, make this a part of the meeting.

If you do not see someone often, you can ask them, 'What are you proud of this week?' 'What achievements are you most pleased about?' 'What have you learnt this week?' Getting people to come up with areas they believe they have done well may enable you to reinforce the positives and identify the impact these things have had on you, the team, or the business. You can also ask them for areas they could improve to see if they are developing self-awareness.

If you spot good or poor behaviours in a meeting, you can use the SBII framework to give feedback:

  • S- Situation. What was the situation you noticed the behaviour?
  • B – Behaviour. What did you observe? 
  • I – Impact. What was the impact on you/the team?
  • I – Intention. What was your intention in that situation?  

For example: 'In the team meeting on Monday, I noticed that you were constantly interrupting Barry. I could see Barry getting frustrated, which derailed the conversation, causing tension.'

The SBII framework can be used for both positive and developmental feedback. The more you practice it, the more it will come naturally, and someone cannot challenge how something made you feel.

Good luck with giving more feedback!