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Provide feedback that has impact

posted Oct 18, 2010, 2:11 PM by Francois Tricot   [ updated Feb 21, 2011, 6:11 AM ]
High performing teams use effective feedback.

Managing teams or projects is not an easy task. Knowing how to give an effective feedback, i.e. a feedback that changes things, is not only necessary when you conduct performance review once a year, but is really useful in every day life. From managing your team - every day - to dealing with the kids - every minute - or to managing the baby sitter.

While I was a young manager, I was always in trouble providing effective feedback to people I was managing. As far as I remember, it has always been something difficult to me.

Up to the time I was choosen to train people in my company on "Coaching for improved performance".
After a number of "train the trainer" sessions, and after having trained the project directors and delivery mangers and risk and delivery managers of my company, finally after having taught more than 10 times how important it was to give effective feedback, I started to have some success on this.

I'm pretty sure that it is still far from perfection and that I sometimes fall into easiness of providing feedback at the worst moment and in the worst manner, however let me share my tips on this.

Effective feedback is a feedback that may help changing things in the future. Providing feedback on things that cannot change is useless. It may help you feel better, but it will not help you to get things done better.
  1. Provide specific feedback, not general. (Say, "The report you sent me this morning was precise, clear, well-written, and made your points about the process very effectively." Don't say, "good report.")
  2. Effective feedback deals with specific behavior, not with a person or their intentions. (When you were privately talking during the group meeting, when John was giving his presentation, you distracted the people in attendance.)
  3. Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can do something about. (Don't say "Pas de bras, pas de chocolat")
  4. Whenever possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful. Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, "I'd like to give you some feedback about the presentation, is that okay with you?"
  5. Effective feedback involves the sharing of information and observations, what or how something was done, not why.
  6. Effective feedback is well timed. Provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible.
  7. Effective feedback is private. Giving feedback in public provokes defensiveness.
Generally, I prepare and use a 3 steps feedback wether it's positive or constructive.

Action : the specific Action, information, observation you made. Don't give feedback on general things involving your opinion such as 'you are lazy', but give feedback about specific things such as : Yesterday between 3 and 4 you were doing personal things on your computer on the Internet.
Impact : the impact that the feedback has on its environment : the company, the project, cikkeagues. Don't give feedback on something that has no impact on the work, this would be useless. Explaining in what sense your team member action has a bad impact on the work will help him to find a motivation to change.
Desired outcome : tell clearly what change you expect that will effectively fix the problem in the future.

If you want to know more about effective feedback, just search the Internet :

A number of tips about feedback :
  • Deliver it. Don't just think about it, deliver it
  • Be direct. Deliver face to face, not using a 3rd person. It has much higher impact
  • Deliver positive and constructive feedback. When I deliver constructive feedback, I try to deliver before at least one positive.
  • Opinion doesn't matter. Impact matters. If you give feedback because your opinion is that someone should act like this or like that, then you are missing the point. You may even be completely wrong. Someone may act differently to what you expect but still have good results. Opinions are easy to discuss, you can easily argue, but facts and impacts of facts are not discussed.
  • Tell clearly what are your expectations. If you think that it is just enough to highlight the problems, and that people will just change their behavior, you may be disappointed. Clearly state the relationship between behavior and consequences and ask for a behavioral change.
tag:featured, tag:management