Let’s face it – receiving and giving feedback can be tough.However, feedback is critical to improving performance. Unfortunately I have seen far too many cringe-worthy live feedback sessions. My heart was always with the traumatized recipient. On the other hand, I have also seen individuals provide feedback that has inspired action. We all fall somewhere on that ‘feedback giving’ scale. Think about the time you provided feedback to a family member, a co-worker or a business partner. Where do you fall on the scale? Not sure? Take this quick test to figure out where you stand:
The Cringe-Worthy to Superstar Feedback Test
Use this 1 to 5 scale to rate each of the 5 questions below:
Rating Scale: 1 (poor).. 3 (kind of).. 5(strong)
- I understand what I need to do to be empathetic when providing feedback.
- I have a good command over my emotions when providing feedback
- I have a good understanding of feedback mechanics and how they work
- I communicate with clarity and confidence when providing feedback
- I am always well prepared and have thought through things before going into a feedback session
If you scored 25 on the above test you are lying to yourself. That or your day job is that of a “Feedback Giver”. I know of managers who love giving unsolicited feedback all day long. If you are one of them – fail yourself now! . Disagree? then pat yourself on the back because you are a Feedback Superstar.
Scored 15+? Have you published your book on providing feedback yet? Amazon link anyone?
If your score is below 15 there is a big room for improvement in how you give feedback. Fret not most people fall in this bracket.You are actually more normal than you think.
So you just scored a cringe-worthy 5. You feel like you failed yet another test! You feel sad. Fear not for I have a magic formula that solves everyone’s feedback giving woes.
With that I will introduce you to what I like to call the ‘Giving Feedback Model.’ (caveat: there may be a fancier academic sounding name for this model but I like the name I have chosen)
The model is actually common knowledge and perhaps used by everyone who scored a 15+. Most top firms try and teach this or a variation to employees in senior positions. I encourage you to start using this model both in your personal and professional lives. A positive from using this model is that people will start appreciating you a lot more and start looking up to you. Once you master this and you will become a Feedback Superstar.
Giving Feedback Model
Let’s use an example to illustrate how this model works. Let’s say you just introduced your parents to your future in-laws. Better yet you just introduced your girlfriend to your parents. Scene set.
One hour passes. Then two. Meeting over.
Time for the feedback session. In most circumstances what would happen? In most cases the feedback would have started somewhere around the end of hour 1. It would be all non-verbal feedback at that point. Glaring eyes, dropped heads, smiles..anyone. When alone you would engage in either a personal attack (if it went bad) or happy banter (if it went well). In both cases nothing constructive happens. Here’s where the model can add some value.
For purposes of this model let’s say your Dad messed up in front of your future in-laws. Your dad cracked an X-Rated joke in what you would describe as ‘Too soon’ of a timeframe. Here’s how you should be handling the post meeting de-brief
STEP 1: What did you think went well?
Always start with this question. Get the person to put on his/her critical hat first. This question is revealing because it shows you how much in denial or self-aware a person is. In professional settings this will allow you to figure out how much coaching this person may need. Back to the case of your dad he may say “Ah they are great people. I think they loved my jokes!”
STEPS 2: Here’s what I think you did well.
By now you have the other person completely disarmed and thinking about the meeting. This is the best time to come in and offer them your insights on what you thought went well. Use the exact words underlined in the title of this point. You could also use a general modification like “Here’s what I thought went well.” Be generous in your compliments. In your Dad’s case it could be “Here’s what I thought went well Dad. You were engaging, your stories got everyone interested and kept everyone enthralled.”
STEP 3: What do you think you would change or improve?
Here is where rubber meets the road. When you pose this question you get the other person into self-diagnosis mode. This disarms them. Use this question to identify what they would have done different. Refrain to offer up any suggestions at this point. Let silence fill voids. Let them come to their own conclusions. Your dad for example could say “Maybe I shouldn’t have cracked that last joke. I didn’t see Mrs. Patel smiling for that one.”
STEP 4: Here’s what I think you could change or improve.
I requested you to hold your suggestions in STEP 3. That’s because now is when you must offer up your suggestions. Start off by first linking on to comments made by the other person in STEP 3. Follow this up with your own observations along with encouraging ideas for improvement. Always back up ideas with sound reasoning and seek their opinion on it. In your Dad’s example it could be “I agree you could have done without that last joke. You could perhaps have skipped the X-Rated ones too. How about the next time you stick to PG-rated jokes. What do you think?”
Cringe worthy or not feedback giving takes skill and practice. While there are several other factors (tone, nonverbal cues etc.) that impact feedback, the ‘Giving Feedback Model’ can act as a basic guide. Use it to improve your interactions and guide how you give feedback to people in both your personal and professional lives.
Go forth, become a Feedback Superstar.