Feedback Series 5 – How to Give Feedback

We’ve been talking about feedback for a while, so let’s get to the tactics of HOW.

The first suggestion is to develop a discipline of immediate, short feedback conversations that create a culture within your team. As I mentioned before, this is great for building trust. And of course, feedback is not just improvement opportunities, it’s also important to celebrate positive outcomes.

One conversation starter is to ask a question like, “how do you think that meeting turned out?”. People are often self-aware and can find their own paths to improve, but the conversation is still critical to be sure you align on expected performance.

Another excellent tool from the Centers for Creative Leadership is the SBI Method. SBI stands for Situation-Behavior-Impact. As you see here, we start by describing the particulars of the situation – what, when, where. You can start with “as I read your report” or “during the project update”. Then described what was observed without making assumptions about what the person was thinking. That sentence may start with “I noticed”. Avoiding assumptions is a key factor. Finally, state what we thought, felt, or observed as an outcome. Then be quiet. Allow the person to process and respond.

The specificity of this approach provides clarity, and it’s a way to talk about behaviors without personalizing. When providing feedback we should avoid statements about the person, like “you are so angry” or heaven forbit “you’re such an idiot”. No, no, no.

The important thing is to push ourselves into the discomfort and create a habit of having these critical conversations with compassion. We must be driven by the desire to help others grow.

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