The best way to deliver feedback
It is not always easy to deliver feedback, but it is an essential part of any job, especially in a leadership role. These seven steps will help you to deliver feedback in the most constructive way possible.
Many people struggle to deliver feedback. Not the good news feedback, because everyone loves doing that. But giving the “less than favourable” type of feedback is something that many women struggle with. They are not keen to deliver feedback which is in anyway negative or could produce an emotional response.
But very often a decision not to deliver feedback has significant consequences on team morale or even individual personal relationships. If you fear giving sensitive news or negative feedback, then follow this 7 step plan to deliver feedback.
Step 1 – Wait until you are calm
If there is an issue that has been bugging you for a while, don’t wait until you are ready to explode. A good test is if your pulse is raised, wait. Get into business neutral. Ask for some time to discuss an important/troublesome issue a couple of days ahead. This puts the recipient in a preparative state of mind.
Step 2 – Do you need to ask permission?
If you are the boss, you definitely don’t have to ask for permission. But if it is with a friend or a colleague or someone you have no authority over, it is a wise move. If the recipient is not open to receiving feedback, you have two options. Carry on and deal with the fall out or withdraw. If you decide to pursue, explain that it’s an important issue for you and ask them to listen, but understand they are not obliged to engage. In any normal balanced professional situation, this is unlikely to happen. If the exchange becomes emotionally charged you probably have a more deep-seated issue on your hands.
Step 3 – State the facts
Just give the facts. “I am responsible for collating the division’s weekly budget with a deadline of Friday at noon. When you submit your return at 1700 it means that I have to work in the evening to meet the deadline.”
Sometimes when you need to deliver feedback, you can find that your confidence in making the point is the issue. But don’t worry, you can improve. 3Plus can help with our Returner Roll-Up Session on Building your Confidence.
Step 4 – Ask for confirmation
If you have given an accurate factual account, they should agree. Ask if that seems reasonable to them.
Step 5 – Ask for a commitment to change
Explain that what you are looking for is a commitment to change a behaviour. As a boss you can insist. As a colleague you can ask. But you can suggest that you will escalate the issue if necessary.
Step 6 – Explain your experience
Find out what’s going on for the individual. Is there a real problem or is it just attitude or lack of competence? Show empathy but make it clear that you experience this as disrespect of your time and disruption of your schedule. As a boss you will need to look deeper at potential reasons for any consistent missing of deadlines. Is it organisational structure or individual competence? Maybe a coach can help.
Step 7 – Thank and commit
Thank and commit to a behaviour change. If you are the boss, you need to monitor it and let the person know you will revert if they slip back. If you need to take any action regarding coaching or any organisational matters confirm that in writing.
A flexible strategy
Difficult conversations are among the toughest calls for many women. This 7 step plan can be used in any tricky situation when you need to deliver feedback with care. Practise and substitute the missing a deadline scenario with:
• Being expected to give free advice rather than charge for consulting/coaching
• Someone who is always late for meetings
• A colleague who eats lunch at her desk and stinks out the office
• A peer who conference calls in an open plan office without headphones or going to a meeting room
It’s all about practise, practise, practise!