Tips on Giving Feedback

Daily with HQ Note from December 29, 2011

I found a management tip by Harvard Business Review on “giving feedback” that I would like to share with you.

Here are the guidelines:

Be specific. Feedback needs to be actionable. Use concrete examples to back up your conclusions. Avoid generalized character attacks. Instead, describe the behavior.

(My thought: We usually classify the people around us simply. Good, bad. For us, against us. Friend, enemy. Thus, our feedback tends to be simple. The advice to be specific about behavior that causes us to need to give feedback moves us into more reflection and better analysis. We think about the interaction more thoughtfully. Our coaching has greater impact.)

State the impact. Tell the person how his behavior is affecting you, the team, or the organization.

(My thought: This takes the reflection and analysis a bit further still. It reminds us to “not sweat the small stuff.” Sometimes there is a behavior that irritates you but it doesn’t have an impact. Therefore, it’s not worth bringing up.)

Prescribe. Be specific about what needs to change. Often employees won’t know what to change unless you tell them.

(My thought: This is where coaching helps. You target unproductive behaviors and you replace them with more productive behaviors.)

Do it often. Get in the habit of praising good performance and identifying troublesome behavior.

(My thought: This is probably the key piece of advice regarding feedback. We don’t do it enough. We stay silent when things are good, suggesting that good behavior is expected. The truth is that if we said – thank you, good job, well done, you’re improving – more often that improved performance would accelerate. On the other hand, if we would coach the small things before they became big things, we would increase effectiveness without so much stress. We associate feedback with a knot in our stomach. If we do it more often, we become more effective. Simple, courageous communication.)

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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