Connected Feedback

There are few skills as important or challenging for a leader than giving feedback. Feedback helps our employees and our organizations succeed by steering us toward our goals and supporting growth. But providing useful feedback is often neglected, with kudos and positive feedback falling to the bottom of the to-do list or tacked on with little enthusiasm at the end of a phase or project, and negative feedback avoided until we can no longer escape action or are long past being able to accurately or effectively learn from an incident.

How can we provide our staff and teams with feedback when and how it is most useful?

  • Approach feedback as an opportunity for collaboration and connection, and not as a lecture. This approach is exemplified in Dare to Lead (You Can Leadership's first Amplify Bookshelf read) when Dr. Brené Brown writes:

"I know I’m ready to give feedback when I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.”

  • Aim to listen more than you speak. Approach feedback as a conversation with a goal of understanding (not just action). So ask questions to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the situation and then listen carefully before responding. Even with positive feedback, we should allow time to hear what went well.

  • Balance timeliness with space. Feedback is rarely useful or effective if it isn't delivered as soon as possible, yet we also need to ensure a conducive environment. Is the physical space comfortable and appropriate? Who should be present? Is there sufficient time for discussion and reflection? Consider carefully the time and space for providing feedback.

  • Focus on future actions and growth. While we want to operate from a place of understanding, feedback should be future-focused and support growth. What can be learned from the situation and how can we improve in the future? What actions need to be taken to resolve a problem or to celebrate a success and build upon it?

  • Focus on accountability (theirs and yours). With positive feedback, acknowledge the broader impacts of a contribution. When giving negative feedback, avoid blame and shift the focus to shared accountability. While responsibility for an incident may fall on the shoulders of your employee, accountability for a resolution and next steps should be shared.

By making feedback a priority, shifting the focus to future actions, and approaching feedback as a collaborative learning opportunity, you can provide useful feedback that increases connections and lifts up your team.

-Jami Yazdani

Also published as a LinkedIn article.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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