Working as part of a team is about collaboration and communication. In the equation of improving the processes and our leadership style, the feedback is a powerful tool.
Giving and receiving feedback is a skill that could be learned. It takes time, courage, and involvement in transforming it into a habit, but the positive impact brought worth all the effort.
Feedback is a learning process and an opportunity to grow. Feedback is about the behavior, not about the person. The purpose of the feedback is to help someone behave differently.
Barbara Fredrickson shares her research on the ideal ratio of positive to negative emotions which is 3:1 (the positivity ratio), this means that for 3 congratulatory feedback offer 1 constructive feedback.
- Emphasis the value that you want to encourage and promote
- The feedback should be genuine
- The structure of the congratulatory feedback
- State the facts and the behaviors: explain with concrete examples a positive aspect, and strengths that you would like the person to continue to boost
- Indicate the feeling: say what it brings and makes you feel
Sample: “Julie, I appreciate the fact that yesterday you took the ownership to solve that critical bug and you collaborated with your colleagues to solve it. That emphasized your ability to be committed and focused on what was urgent and important for our customers. Thank you! Great achievement!”
Constructive or development feedback
- Focus on the observed facts (be objective, use numbers, dates, and concrete details, not perceptions)
- To give constructive feedback well Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team recommends:
- Come from a place of Care
- Come from a place of Observation
- Come from a place of Fallibility
- Come from a place of Curiosity
- If you’re not used to giving difficult feedback regularly, here’s how you can start doing so:
- Ask for permission.
- Make sure you give the feedback right away.
- Give yourself small “feedback goals.”
- Explain “the why.”
- Always share the impact
- If it is possible connect your feedback with your colleague’s objectives. This way the other person will understand what’s in it for him/her
- Acknowledge that your feedback is necessarily incomplete (you have a partial view of reality)
- Invite critical feedback about yourself.
- Use a framework
- Challenge yourself to find three things every day on which you could give feedback. This helps train your mind to see everything as an opportunity to give feedback, instead of dismissing your own observations. (by Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team)
I personally prefer to use the “feedback equation” framework done by Lara Hogan.
Sample: (observation) Mark, I’ve noticed your emails usually include three to five words in the body. I know you are working to have better communication so this is why I came to you.
(impact) I have a hard time understanding what you mean in those emails. I often need to reply to your email with more questions to get clarification or more context, which adds time to the process.
(question) Can you help me understand what‘s your approach to writing emails?
- Used to help someone progress with a task, a skill, or a mission; something they could try in the future
- focus on recommending clear actions or behaviors
- do not focus on the past behaviors that could not be changed
- the major feedforward questions are ‘Where am I going?’, ‘How am I doing?’ and ‘Where next?’.
Sample: “I recommend you include a bit more context in your emails and consider thinking about the receivers of the email, and what is important and relevant for them.”
- SBI (Situation – Behavior – Impact)
- Situation: you outline the situation you’re referring to so that the context is clear and specific.
- Behavior: you discuss the precise behavior that you want to address.
- Impact: finally, you highlight the impact of the person’s behavior on you, the team, and the organization.
- The McKinsey’s feedback model – the intent of the model is to make the feedback: specific, fact-based, less personal, irrefutable, actionable
- Recommended format for structured feedback
- “When you did [A], it made me feel [B]. In the future, I would recommend that you do [C]”.
- When using McKinsey’s model, feedback is delivered in three parts:
- A is the specific action, event, or behavior you’d like someone to change.
- B is the impact of that behavior, in other words how it made you feel.
- C is a suggestion for what the person could do differently next time.
- Recommended format for structured feedback
- The Stanford method: “I like; I wish; what if … ?” In this approach, your feedback starts the sentence with either “I like”, “I wish” or with a suggestion phrased as “What if … ?”
- People respond well to this technique because the structure describes your feelings in a very non-accusing manner.
- The SAID feedback model: the model outlines how to give specific, concise feedback while also inviting feedback and coming to an agreement on the next steps
- Specific: describe the behaviors/actions you observed.
- Ask: seek to understand perspective.
- Impact: describe the impact.
- Do: agree on a course of action
- The SKS Feedback model: another effective way to approach feedback is by using SKS – “Stop”, “Keep”, and “Start”.
- What should the person stop doing?
- What should the person keep doing?
- What should the person start doing?
- Feedback equation by Lara Hogan
- Radical Candor by Kim Scott
- Radical Candor is a framework that should be used as a compass to guide individual conversations with the purpose to build a better place. This framework puts building good relationships at the center of a manager’s job.
- Radical Candor is a feedback mindset that prioritizes Caring Personally and Challenging Directly.
- Care personally = “give a damn” dimension of radical candor.
- Challenge directly = “willingness to piss people off”.
- When we challenge directly but forget to show that we care personally it is called “obnoxious aggression”.
- When we do not challenge that person and we also forget to care personally it is called “manipulative insincerity”.
- When we do not challenge that person, but we are very afraid that we could hurt that person’s feelings, it is called “ruinous empathy”.
The Johari Window
When I first discovered the Johari Window Model I realized that it helps to increase our self-awareness, and self-perception and inspires us to be more open. The skill of giving and receiving feedback is an important asset and tool that guides us to address our weak spots.
- 1:1 open area or arena = I know, you know
- 2:1 hidden window, facade = I know, but you don’t know
- 1:2 blind area, blind spot = I don’t know, but you do ⇒ here is the feedback
- 2:2 unknown = I don’t know, you don’t know
Creating a culture of feedback takes time, and as a leader, you should be a role model in giving feedback, but also in knowing how to receive it. “Model the behavior you wish more people would display. Lead first.” – Robin S. Sharma
What to do if you do not receive feedback as often as expected?!
- Ask at the end of each 1:1 if the team member has some constructive feedback for you. If yes, then your response should be: “Thank you! Please could you tell me more?”. You should be curious to understand better the perspective:
- “Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about, just so I can better understand and improve for the future?”
- “Going forward, what’s the one thing you’d like to see done differently?”
- “Was there a specific moment or occurrence that triggered what you’re de- scribing?”
- “What would success look like to you in this situation?”
- Reflect on the received feedback: “What about me is true from the received feedback?”, “How I am wrong?”, “When I am wrong?”
- To differentiate yourself, start by sharing your improvement areas and ask them in advance for feedback as they see you in action.
- Share with your team when you received some constructive feedback and about the fact that you are working to address it and what are the steps to do that. This shows that you are vulnerable and open to working to improve your leadership skills. Also, when you make a change or a decision based on the received feedback you should mention that to let the team know that you have listened to their perspective and you act on it.
- Ask for “advice” or “recommendation” instead of “feedback”
- Assume good intent and follow up with gratitude: remind yourself that the person giving you the feedback is taking a risk by giving you their honest take
- Use these 2 questions to start the conversation and to communicate intentionally: “Is there anything I should be doing for you that I am not doing?” or “Anything I should be doing better or more often?”
Ideas from my super amazing coach, Samantha Amit
- Have an agreement with the team that you value the feedback and emphasis as much as possible the importance of giving and receiving feedback
- Share the fact that you are working to improve your skills of giving constructive feedback and their support is very valuable for you
- Ask for permission when you want to offer some feedback: “Could I give you my perspective about …?”
- Give the feedback without spending too much time preparing it
- Analyze and journal how are you feeling and when is it necessary to give constructive/development feedback. What is causing the stress? How are you feeling at that moment?
- Practice what you learned until now about how to give and receive feedback. Make it a measurable objective
- Encourage and celebrate when a team member offers feedback to his/her colleagues or to me
Speaking up is only the first step. The true test is how leaders respond when people actually speak up. – Amy Edmondson, The Fearless Organization
These are the learnings and notes that I collected in the latest years about feedback. I must admit that it was challenging for me to give constructive feedback, but I realized that by avoiding this practice I am not offering my colleagues the opportunity to be aware of the behaviors that should be improved. It is my responsibility to set up my people for success and in this leadership journey it is not about me and my anxiety it is about my team members. So, dare to give feedback! 😉
- The Best Leaders are Feedback Magnets – Here’s How to Become One
- Our 6 Must Reads for Managers to Give Feedback That Helps People Grow
- Negative feedback antipatterns
- Feedback equation by Lara Hogan