Effective feedback is a powerful way to provide valuable insights and guidance to those around you, helping them grow and improve. So many of the best parts of how I show up for others and do my best work have come from feedback given to me over the years. Shout out to all those that have helped me grow!
The catch is that giving effective feedback is tough and can cause more harm than good if not done correctly. My goal is to provide you with valuable context, structure and examples to help you improve your feedback giving game.
Feedback is a Gift
Let’s start with why feedback is essential. It’s no understatement to say that feedback is a gift. Remember the best feedback you’ve ever received; how has that shaped you? Are you better for it?
Feedback comes in different forms. You can give constructive criticism, share positive reinforcement, highlight areas of improvement and more. It is a pillar in creating an environment of growth and development and helping others to understand how their actions impact others.
Let’s discuss some fundamental principles to help you effectively frame your feedback.
Know your intention
Before you ever give someone feedback, you MUST consider your true intention. Is your motivation to help the individual improve? Or is it to criticise? Your intention should always be to provide feedback that empowers growth and improvement.
Make it actionable
Our goal is always to give actionable feedback. It should be specific and clear. It should highlight behaviours, habits, and skills that need to improve.
Write it down
Writing your feedback first is a powerful way to practice giving feedback and ensure it is effective. Writing down your feedback will help you organise your thoughts and ensure that your feedback is clear and concise.
Focus on them
Always remember that this is about the other person. Start by asking if they are open to hearing your feedback. It’ll surprise you how much this helps with setting the right environment. For people you interact with regularly, learn how they prefer receiving feedback. Remember, this is about them, not you.
Form a habit
Feedback should be a regular occurrence, not just a tool for Performance Reviews or when things are bad. Each week I’m looking for what feedback I can give my team and peers. I’m also seeking feedback from those I work with to aid my growth. Try to form a habit with feedback; it will build trust and confidence within your team and change the culture. I talk more about this in Effective Feedback — How to build a culture of feedback.
Start with reinforcing
Start forming a habit with reinforcing feedback, whether with your team members, manager or peers. Get practised in delivery. Show your intent to help them grow with action. It will also help build trust and confidence.
Let’s talk about how to structure your feedback. It’s essential to have a structured approach to deliver effective feedback. One way to structure feedback is to use the Situation, Behaviour, Impact, and Future Behaviour model. I learnt this from Jerome Valdez, who has a fantastic blog called Design Habits.
- Situation — Start by describing the situation. Be specific about the time, place, and circumstances.
- Behaviour — Next, describe the behaviour that you observed. Be specific about what the individual did or said. Don’t try to imply or predict their intent or feelings, only the facts you observed.
- Impact — Explain the behaviour’s impact on you or others. Be specific about the consequences of the behaviour.
- Future Behaviour — Finally, suggest what a different future behaviour might look like. The goal is to provide actionable feedback.
This structure works for both reinforcing and constructive feedback. Let’s look at two examples:
During the brainstorming session you facilitated on Tuesday; you consistently paused to ensure everyone had a chance to contribute before moving forward. The impact of this was that everyone contributed, and we benefited from a diverse set of perspectives. Keep doing this in the future, and if possible, explore even more ways to create an inclusive space for everyone to share.
Yesterday, when you presented the plan to the entire team, you didn’t stop to ask any for questions or feedback. The impact was that the team felt like their opinion didn’t matter and didn’t have input into planning. In the future, I suggest you create regular pauses throughout the presentation to collect feedback and ensure the team is involved. It will not only help the team, but it will help strengthen your plan.
Wow, we made it to the end. In summary, giving feedback is a vital skill that requires intention, clear communication, and a structured approach. Give and receive the gift of feedback effectively, and I promise you, your world will get measurably better.
Here’s an idea, you can start now! I would be grateful if you could provide any feedback on this post or what you’d like to learn more about, go ahead, and add a comment below.