In part 1, we covered the value and psychology of feedback, and the role it plays in driving employee engagement. In this post, we take our learnings and apply them to understand how, when, where and whom to give feedback

How to give feedback:

The Center for Creative Leadership developed a framework to ensure people gave non-judgemental feedback by focusing on Situation, Behaviour and Impact.

Situation: Focus on the specific situation when the incident occurred
e.g. Today's marketing presentation
Behaviour: Focus on factual observable behaviour rather than assumptions e.g You did not leave time for brainstorming and discussion
Impact: Focus on the results of the behaviour e.g. Prevented us from understanding your presentation and coming to any decision

All together the feedback would be: "In Today's marketing presentation, you did not leave time for brainstorming and discussion which prevented us understanding your presentation and coming to any decision"

A note of caution:  Constructive criticism may feel as an attack by the recipient and therefore its important to always precede the criticism with empathy. Let's try it again, "Jack, I want you to continue to grow and have a big impact at this organization but in today's marketing meeting, you did not leave time for brainstorming and discussion which prevented us understanding your presentation and coming to any decision."

If they are open to further discussion, you should discuss actions they can take to improve their performance next time.

This strategy of using Situation, Behavior, and Impact works well for recognition too and it helps you communicate exactly why you are praising them and the impact of their good behaviour.

For further reading, I would highly recommend Kim Scott's Radical Candor where she covers this topic in-depth and is a much better story teller!

When to give feedback:

According to a PwC survey, over 60% of employees want feedback on a daily or weekly basis, and the number climbs up to 72% for employees under the age of 30. Feedback is coveted by employees and needs to be given continuously.

Focus on immediate and consistent feedback

Feedback is a muscle that you should continuously tone and use. It is best given right after the incident as the event, the behaviour, and the impact is fresh in yours and the other person's memory. It will give the recipient the best chance of reflecting on the feedback against their own perceptions.

Holding on to your feedback until the next annual review is a terrible mistake. It not only sets up the recipient for failure as they won't be able to leverage the feedback but the feedback, if its criticism, will also fester within you.

I once had the misfortune of hearing a racist joke. I never gave him feedback about that joke and how it made me feel. To this day, I still have ill feelings about that person and would never want to work with him which is unfortunate given that he most likely was a good guy and perhaps made a cultural faux pas which could have been fixed. What's worse he might have made that joke again to others and I could have saved others. Give feedback often and give it early.

Where should feedback be given:

The age old saying goes, "Praise in public. Criticize in private", and we can hold true to this most of the time. However, there is one exception.

Anyone seen breaking the values of your company in public should be addressed immediately. For instance, if someone makes a sexist joke, and you wait for a private conversation later with this individual then you will have sent the wrong signal to all the bystanders. The others won't know whether you met with the individual privately.  What they will have seen is someone who made a sexist joke and got away with it. If anyone breaks your values in public, then you should address it in public as well. Live your values at all moments of your work.

Whom to give feedback:

Many of us give feedback easily to our direct reports (if we can remember to do it). However, we rarely give feedback to our peers or our superiors because those relationships are key to our progress within an organization. We don't want to trouble those waters unless we really have to. Unfortunately, those are the very individuals that should hear feedback as they hold the largest influence over your organization. If they have flaws or are making mistakes that go unresolved then eventually those issues will affect the organization and its culture, which will impact you directly. It is in yours, theirs, and the organization's best interest to give and receive constructive feedback. The only way an individual can grow and improve is if they receive feedback. The only way an organization grows and improves is if the individuals within it are growing and improving and constructive feedback is critical to that achievement.

The only way an individual can grow and improve is if they receive feedback. The only way an organization grows and improves is if the individuals within it are growing and improving and constructive feedback is critical to that achievement.

If you are uncomfortable with providing constructive feedback to your peers publicly, you can leverage tools like Sprout to give feedback anonymously, have your voice be heard and help your peers and colleagues grow.

In conclusion, focus on the Situation, behavior, and impact framework to give effective feedback. Give feedback often both in public and in private, and give feedback across the organization, not just Top-Down, to help build a transparent culture. In part 3 of our series, we will take what we have learned here and turn into an organizational habit so that everyone is giving continuous, timely, and effective feedback

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