Match Feedback with the Moment

The motivation behind giving and receiving feedback is to prevent the possibility of feeling blind-sided, inspire improvement, and open a dialogue. Some moments require 1:1 attention with an employee and some require providing insight at scale for an entire organization. The best way to approach feedback differs based on the context of each situation. You have to be aware of surrounding influences including the environment and the people involved. 

Here are the three primary feedback styles and some tips on how to better deliver your observations and analysis. 

1:1 Feedback

The stakes can be high with this form of feedback if your intention is to avoid friction within the relationship. While the intention is to inspire improvement and opportunity, it often feels uncomfortable sharing feedback that could be interpreted as criticism. The best way to achieve your desired results and combat your own reservations is to use the “you first” method. The first step in this approach is to admit to the other participant how you are feeling and then proceed with presenting your insight. It may look like this… “I’m a little nervous to share my feedback today, but I think you could improve in area XYZ”. This strategy allows you to avoid the typical compliment sandwich but still deliver feedback in an effective and graceful way.

Team Feedback

This form of feedback occurs in a group setting only when there is input that would be beneficial for the entire team to hear. In this setting, remember the “sharper spear” example, originating from a story about a messenger franticly warning his village of an army heading their way to smash their gates. When the villagers hear this message, they assume their gates are strong enough to hold off their enemies and they continue on without adjustments. When the villager returns with an update that the army is still coming, he presents a spear that he has created and suggests that they should make more. The same message is being delivered each time, but during his second attempt, the messenger proposes a tangible action that the villagers can take. The same idea applies to group feedback. If you simply present your analysis and then walk away, the recipient is likely to do much less with the information.

Scaled Feedback

This type of input occurs through annual feedback surveys done throughout an entire organization, and at this level it is best to “play the long game”. The process of gaining feedback should not be an event or a project. It is easy to lose sight of this philosophy because of the prep work that goes into compiling the data; however, the true purpose of feedback is not to check a box for your organization but to open a dialogue. If you survey your employees and then never discuss it further, they won’t feel heard. There should be clear productive communication with those you are surveying before, during, and after the process.

To learn more watch Find The Hidden Value of Employee Feedback

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