Feedback has gotten a bad rap… unnecessarily. It’s become associated with criticism. It triggers all our insecurities about not measuring up, not being good enough, making mistakes, and being wrong. It is no wonder that we avoid feedback. All of these are threats to our sense of security and belonging.
We also fail to give feedback to people because we know it will trigger these fears in others and we don’t want to make people feel that way. We don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. So, we sit with minor issues or mistakes until they become so big and out of proportion that we explode, rejecting the person and bringing about the thing which everyone was fearing.
Here are five ways to change feedback in your organization so that people feel good about giving it and even seek it out from others.
1. Give Specific, Positive Feedback Often
Good work, contributions, and added value often go unrecognized. At best there is a “thank you” and at worst they are taken for granted. After all, that’s what we are paying people for, right? Show up, do good work, get a paycheck. We only really notice when things go wrong, when someone makes a mistake or deadlines are missed.
Taking time to give positive and specific feedback, however, is worth its weight. “Thank you for that report. I really appreciated the data you presented. It added the emphasis we needed to make our case.” These kinds of affirmations let people know their efforts were appreciated, and they reinforce specific behaviors or decisions that they made. The message received says:
- You’re a valued member of the team.
- You made good choices or decisions that added specific value.
- You are worthy and belong
Such feedback may seem inconsequential, but research shows that people more readily accept critical or negative feedback when the positive outweighs the negative 4:1.
Key factors for successful positive feedback:
- Timeliness: Give positive feedback in the moment and give it often.
- Specificity: Be specific to clarify and reinforce specific actions.
- Authenticity: It needs to be genuine. If you look for strengths and for what people are doing well (instead of weaknesses and mistakes) you will find them. Make this a habit and let them know you see and value those strengths and contributions.
2. Learn To Receive And Advance Positive Feedback And Gratitude
When we receive positive feedback or gratitude, we often deflect, discount, or reciprocate. These actions don’t honor the person giving the feedback and they don’t allow the individual to take in the compliment. It is important to practice receiving positive feedback. Take it in and feel it, responding with a simple, “Thank you.”
Suzann PileggiPawelski and James Pawelski, in their book Happy Together, suggest we can do even better than that. First, they encourage us to savor positive feedback. Amplify the relationship by letting the person know how much it means to hear those comments, “Thank you so much. It means a lot to me when you…”
In addition, we can advance the relationship by inviting specificity or greater specificity. “I’m glad you found the data in my report valuable. Was there specific data that you felt was especially pertinent?” Ask questions to help you learn more about the other person and what is important for them. The person giving the positive feedback will feel heard and appreciated and you’ll strengthen the relationship.
Steps for Receiving Positive Feedback:
- Accept it: Take it in; feel it.
- Savor it: Amplify it by letting the person know the importance of their feedback.
- Advance it: Ask for even greater specificity in order to deepen understanding.
3. Give Feedforward
Ask anyone. “Can I give you feedback?” means preparing for criticism. That’s because we typically give and receive feedback when something or someone is wrong or missing the mark. The result? People avoid giving or seeking feedback. This means they are missing out on valuable information that could help them succeed.
Instead of feedback, give “feedforward.” You achieve the same goal, but in a way that actually invites people to seek out feedback. It is a simple two-step process:
- Here’s what I like about [your project, your contribution, your presentation, your idea, etc.]
- Here are suggestions or ideas I have [for making it even better, improving, etc.]
Feedforward reinforces the positive and offers critical feedback in the form of suggestions for improvement. Offering your ideas shows you care and it helps them understand what’s important for you.
Feedforward was created by Marshall Goldsmith. His 4-minute video provides a way to practice as a group. People learn quickly the value of getting input from others. Not every suggestion or idea will be valuable, nor does every offer have to be implemented. The person can choose those suggestions that resonate and improve their outcomes.
Feedforward builds trust as people begin to see that their colleagues care about helping them be their best and they have a way to share their care for their colleague. This improves collaboration and overall team excellence.
Rules for Feedforward:
- No feedback about the past.
- Share what you like.
- Offer suggestions and ideas.
- Don’t judge or critique ideas. Treat suggestions as gifts. Listen and take them in.
4. Make Learning A Goal
Too often perfection or “getting it right” is the goal, especially in organizations. But people and organizations are systems that are far more successful when treated like living, growing, and evolving systems. For a system that is growing and evolving, learning is essential.
If your team or company holds a premium on learning, asking for feedforward and giving feedback is less formidable. Instead, they are seen as practical tools for learning and evolving towards excellence. Expeditionary Learning Schools actually teach children this important concept and the results are remarkable. Austin’s Butterfly is a short video offering an example of how to give critical feedback for learning. The children give feedback to a first grade classmate to help him improve his drawing of a butterfly. When you watch, pay attention to the tone and direction of these children’s comments and their excitement and joy in Austin’s final product. Imagine how this could change feedback in your organization.
Key Factors for Learning:
- Adopt an attitude of curiosity.
- Ask for feedforward, often.
- Notice what is right, offer specific actions for improvement.
- Maintain a positive tone and outcomes-based direction.
- Celebrate every step
5. Create Valuations (Instead Of Evaluations)
We like evaluations as much as we like critical feedback, which is often why they go undone. Turn your low energy evaluation process into a high engagement, energizing Valuation process. Valuation is a conversation between employee and manager that reinforces strengths, develops shared understanding for what’s working and where there are opportunities for improvement and growth. It results in a co-created plan of action with measurable goals. The process is grounded in Appreciative Inquiry which was co-created by David Cooperrider. Valuation uses the SOAR model, created by Jackie Stavros. The idea is to engage in a conversation worth having around Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results.
Identify and clarify strengths and how those strengths are contributing.
- Share a story of when they were at their best.
- Invite them to share a story of when they felt they were at their best.
- Together, analyze the stories for strengths and important contributions
Discover opportunities for growth and learning by first inviting the person to share their ideas before sharing your own:
- What is needed for them to take advantage of these opportunities (training, a mentor, etc.)
Inquire into aspirations. What goals or dreams does the person have for their life and work? What aspirations do you have for them?
- Create a shared story or image of that desired future being specific about what’s happening in that future state?
- How did they get there?
- What did they do? How did the organization contribute? How did you contribute?
Identify shared goals and clarify specific, measurable results.
- How will they know they are succeeding? How will you measure progress?
- How can they bring their strengths and competencies to these goals?
- What else is needed to support their success?
- How can you design for success together?
These five feedback strategies each trigger “feel good” hormones (endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin), stimulating whole brain engagement for both the giver and receiver. These are the hormones needed for higher order thinking, decision making, creativity, and human connection and collaboration. Next time you’re hesitating to give or receive feedback, use one of these five tools and experience the transformational impact!
Cheri Torres is a senior consultant at NextMove.is, partner at Innovation Partners International, and an associate at the Taos Institute. She works with organizations in every sector to support effective leadership, team excellence, and culture change. She has trained thousands of trainers and teachers in the use and practice of Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Facilitation. Her new book, co-authored with Jackie Stavros, Conversations Worth Having, will be accompanied by a training program and product.
|Magazine Name||:||Talent Management Excellence, June 2018|
|Author name||:||Cheri Torres|
|Link to original article||:||Click Here|