Topic 5 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series
transcript written by Wayne Brown
Hello and welcome back to all of our global tribal executives – today we review topic 5 – Feedback Strategies. On completion of this video you will have already reached the half way point in our 10 topic Basics series. It’s great progress and hopefully by now you are starting to see some positive results with your teams performance and the business improvement itself.
Armed with all of the preparation steps covered during the first 4 topics, we ‘re now ready to launch into feedback – this can be the risky part of the whole process and has the potential to unravel all of our hard work, but with the right planning and consideration it can also be highly rewarding and fruitful for both employee and you as the leader.
As you may recall from topic 4, we have already identified that our online gamers thrive when they can see progress and receive instant feedback, which means all 4 generations are open and even seeking feedback provided you learn “how to” correctly. So let’s get started.
Consider starting from a different perspective…
There are numerous studies, now pointing us in the direction of ensuring the first step is for leaders and their teams to understand the importance of soliciting feedback and that this becomes a precursor to the leader providing their feedback.
The research is suggesting that there are various advantages for an employee who solicits constructive feedback – apart from the studies showing that they tend to be more successful overall – they are also perceived by their leaders and colleagues as being more approachable with a genuine desire to improve.
An interesting question which might arise is from employees is “Why do we need to receive feedback at all ?” Well the answer is that it performs a valuable role of in multiple ways:
- from improving self awareness
- enhancing self esteem
- raising morale
- encouraging people to want to learn
- offering reassurance
- improving individual performance.
So let’s continue by digging a little deeper into the science of what happens in our brain when we receive feedback – good or bad.
Do you recall our SCARF model discussions from Topic 2 and the threat or reward reaction based on how our brains perceive the situation. The same amygdala reaction is at play here. Positive feedback is seen as a reward whilst negative feedback (which we refer to as Constructive feedback) is seen as a threat.
Hence the importance of every employee understanding the feedback process and approach, so that they can have an opportunity to prepare themselves (their brains) ahead of the feedback.
In particular, receiving constructive feedback can be emotionally draining when taken as a personal affront. It’s hard for us to feel like we’re wrong, and it’s even harder for us to hear that from others. According to the studies, our brains look to protect us when we hear information that conflicts with our self-image and our instinct is to first change the information, rather than ourselves.
Another unique thing about criticism is that we often don’t remember it accurately despite the fact that we seldom forget receiving it.
Professor Clifford Nass from Stanford University, says “almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”
It’s called a “negativity bias”. Our brains have evolved separate and more sensitive circuits to handle negative information and events, and they process the bad stuff more thoroughly than positive things. That means receiving criticism will always have a greater impact than receiving praise.
Hopefully from this short intro you can see the value of first studying about our hard wired reactions & how to cope with them before engaging in the feedback process itself?
Leaders need to seek feedback…
Now to look at the way to solicit feedback as a leader, which is invaluable as we can gain powerful insights from employees. While it might seem awkward to turn the tables, asking your team members to provide feedback on your performance, as a leader it can help you strengthen that performance and build a stronger bond with your team.
A couple of ways to approach this in the first instance without making anyone feel uncomfortable is to ask:
- “How can I make your job easier?” or “What type of support could I offer to help you perform your job better”
One underlying consideration in order to receive genuine feedback and that is TRUST must exist between the leader and their team. To support that trust here are 5 tips for ways in which to respond when receiving that feedback;
- 1. Be open.
- 2. Don’t take it personally.
- 3. Don’t argue.
- 4. Consider it a skill and practice it.
- 5. Thank the person who delivered it.
Talking one-on-one with your employees is a great way to collect employee feedback on engagement and satisfaction, however there are multiple other ways to obtain this feedback. Consider the following additional methods to ensure variety and depth.
- in todays technology driven environment establishing a means for employees to leave anonymous comments or suggestions is common practice.
- the use of larger employee surveys can be expensive but highly insightful
- and one tool which we use regularly is Johari Window – a great way to deepen the trust and obtain feedback. we’ll provide a link for this in our notes.
Key steps in delivering feedback…
Right so we have taken that important first step and educated everyone on why and how to receive feedback. It’s now time to look at delivering feedback.
According to a Gallup report, meaningful employee feedback increases employee engagement and they would prefer to receive negative feedback than no feedback at all.
It found that an employee who is ignored by a manager is twice as likely to be actively disengaged at work as an employee whose manager focuses on his or her weaknesses. Likewise, receiving feedback from employees can offer valuable insights that can help leaders become stronger and more efficient in their roles.
- feedback can motivate individuals and teams;
- facilitate the resolution to a specific challenge;
- open lines of communication; foster employees’ professional development;
- and increase employee engagement.
The way in which you provide feedback to employees has a tremendous impact on its effect.
4 strategies which support your feedback process…
These strategies can help you deliver feedback that is both powerful and productive. For the remainder of this discussion we’ll look at 4 key areas – Our preparation, Informal feedback, Formal feedback and Feedback techniques.
#1: Our preparation…
A favourite and famous quote from ULCA head coach John Wooden “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” provides a great opening reminder for us here about the importance of this step 2.
- doing anything well requires effort and thought.
- consider the feedback culture of the organization,
- consider the background leading to this feedback,
- will it be perceived as a reward or threat discussion,
- what is the best location based on whether it is going to be formal or informal.
If formal, what is the best time of day for scheduling it – what does it relate to – is the feedback on an individual task, team project or broader performance review. Depending on the situation there are likely numerous other considerations.
Great, constructive feedback requires preparation on your part. You can’t just give offer someone feedback as you’re running to another meeting.
They will have questions for you. When you give someone feedback, most likely they are going to have a response and questions. Whether they react defensively, or want to truly understand the situation, a few brief sentences or words are not going to be enough. Have you planned the entire process and thought through the likely responses, together with how you will reply.
Here are some additional considerations regardless of formal or informal feedback…
- is the leader credible in the eyes of the recipient?
- is the leader trusted by the recipient?
- is the feedback conveyed with good intentions?
- is your feedback fair, accurate, and directly applicable to the employee’s tasks?
- do your comments focus on single behaviors that direct the employee’s attention to a few specific and important improvements?
- were any of the current development areas discussed previously?
And finally before starting several mistakes which you should avoid…
- talking too much and not allowing time for the recipient to respond
- failing to listen to the recipients feedback
- providing the solution without input from the recipient
- not connecting follow-up plans to review the progress.
The key take-away to remember is that feedback is a two way conversation – the better you are prepared the easier it will be to relax, listen and seek a joint solution.
# 2: Informal Feedback Opportunities…
As a manager, ongoing informal feedback can help you recognize an employee’s accomplishments or improve performance in real time. Informal feedback that is sincere, fair and accurate can considerably performance with one study suggesting as much as 39%.
We have already established that feedback can be positive or constructive.
- Give positive feedback to recognize and reinforce actions or behaviors you value and want to continue.
- Provide constructive feedback to identify actions or behaviors that weren’t effective and offer alternatives or suggestions for improvement for the next time the situation arises.
Offering guidance on improvement is critical; without it, the person will be uncertain as to how to avoid the same or similar issues in the future.
Here’s a simple 4 letter acronym to help you remember the basic of informal feedback – It’s called FAST which stands for Frequent, Actionable, Specific and Timely.
I’m always reminded of the methods outlined in book The One Minute Manager written by Ken Blanchard and Spence Johnson when we speak about informal feedback. If you don’t know it, we will include the link in our notes.
# 3: Formal Feedback Opportunities…
We now move onto formal feedback and note that this will exclude discussion on the annual performance review as we cover that issue during the next video. For now we will turn our focus to formal settings related to face 2 face progress or completion reviews for assigned tasks.
- Ensuring that you have a private location where both parties can feel relaxed that they are not on display is a must and it’s also preferable to be a neutral environment is possible.
Remember that even constructive feedback can promote growth in individuals and relationships if handled appropriately. Here’s a few behaviors to keep in mind.
Enter situation with the desire for a dialogue, be tactful, show empathy and use active listening skills.
- Understand why you are offering criticism. (Is it appropriate/constructive?)
- Engage in perspective-taking or role reversal.
- Offer criticism of the person’s behavior, not the person.
- Focus on a particular situation rather than a general or abstract behavior
- Direct your criticism to the present rather than the past
- Avoid “critical overload.”
- Focus criticism on behaviors that the other person can change.
# 4: Feedback techniques…
And now to wrap up this topic with a brief look at several feedback models which help provide structure for the leader during the conversation with employees.
These are not the only models available but are some of the more common. Whichever you choose to utilize, remember to be clear about the feedback and how you will introduce it, be clear about the outcome you want and changes required.
In addition, allow the employee time to respond, so ask for their input and practice your active listening techniques.
We start with the Sandwich model which has lost popularity in more recent years mainly because the assumption is that employees today expect constructive feedback and feel that wrapping it between praise cheapens the process. Whether this is correct or not we have decided to at least present the method here for your awareness. Essentially wrap any criticism between open and closing praise.
The next model is called BOOST an acronym standing for Balanced, Observed, Objective, Specific and Timely and whilst the first word balanced relates to opening with praise before criticism the tool as a whole seems to work quite well and provides a simple, clear structure for the leader to follow.
The final model and perhaps most used today is called SBI – meaning Situation, Behavior, Impact and contains many similarities to BOOST. We are providing links to all three models for further exploration as you desire.And now to summarize and conclude…
And now to summarize and conclude…
Well that brings us to the end of our topic 5 video covering the basic but critical discussion on successful approaches towards feedback.
Armed with this new knowledge, there’s never been a better time to find one of your team and put the learnings into practice. As they say – Practice makes perfect. However because this is such a crucial area, we’ve decided to make the next topic in the series a follow-on to this one.
So next up… Topic 6 – Achievement reviews. In this video we continue with our feedback discussion looking at the how in some companies, technology is now provide everyone with instant feedback. In addition, we tackle the annual performance review process with another twist in our approach by turning the focus towards the successes rather than the failures.
Looking forward to chatting with you again very soon. Don’t forget, please leave a comment below and hit the subscribe button to receive automatic notification each time we release a new topic. Bye for now.
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