Mastering the Art of Feedback
Updated: Sep 6
We shared how a productive feedback culture reaps many benefits for an organization. Mastering the art of feedback is essential to successfully lead teams. Like any art there are techniques that need to be learned and practice makes perfect.
Try adopting these practices and see what feedback masterpiece you can create.
Use the Situation-Behavior-Impact model to guide you. Developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, the SBI model outlines a simple structure for feedback:
Describe the specific situation in the most concise, non-emotional way.
Focus on observable behaviors.
Describe the impact of the behavior on the individual, team or organization.
Throughout the process emphasize the importance of working together to find positive solutions.
Explain why you’re giving feedback. We humans never do well in a vacuum. Having a frame of reference can lower our defenses and improve our ability to process information. In one study, researchers made feedback 40% more effective by prefacing it with: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”
Ask if they want feedback. You can’t always give employees the option to receive feedback. In the cases where you can, asking if they want feedback increases ownership which results in an increased openness to the information.
Time the feedback appropriately. If there is a problem, you want to give feedback right away to correct the issue. If you wait, not only can the problem become bigger, but the employee may wonder why you waited so long to address it which undermines trust. Conversely, you don’t want to constantly give feedback on minor matters. This can result in people feeling micromanaged. Making notes on trends you are seeing along with specific examples can allow you to track performance and decide on the best time for feedback.
Give feedback in the right place. Publicly providing positive feedback can be a morale booster. That is not the same with negative feedback. You communicate respect when you take time to consider how and where feedback should take place. Even in the case of positive feedback, employee personalities should also be considered. A very introverted employee may become anxious if made the center of attention. Giving them a heads up before shining the spotlight on them can let them enjoy the benefits of positive feedback.
Non verbal behavior can be more important than what you say. Researcher Marie Dasborough studied feedback by observing two groups. Group One received negative feedback combined with positive body language (nods and smiles). Group Two received positive feedback with negative body language (frowns, narrowed eyes). How did the groups feel after the experiment? Even though Group Two received positive feedback, they felt worse than the participants receiving negative feedback.
Listen to the response. After you have provided feedback, you need to listen to the verbal and nonverbal signals from your employees. Good feedback gets people thinking and starts a dialogue. Be sure you are listening to the responses of your employees, watching their body language and engaging them in conversation. Just telling them something is not feedback. Feedback is a two way street.
Get feedback on your feedback. Periodically ask your employees if the way you are giving feedback is effective for them. The goal of feedback is to help your employees grow. Don’t automatically assume that your feedback resonates in the way that you intended. To help tailor feedback, ask your staff questions like:
When I am giving feedback, what is helpful for you?
What would you like more of?
What would you like less of?
The answers to these questions will provide you with valuable information that will improve your effectiveness as a leader. In addition, you will communicate that you are invested in the relationship with your employee.
Spending time honing your feedback skills will help you create an environment that will bring out the best in you and your employees.
G2 Solutions can help you assess your communication culture and help you and your teams master the art of feedback. Contact us at www.g2solve.com.