If you lead people, ask yourself, how good am I at giving excellent, constructive feedback?
If you’re like most leaders I coach, you’ll probably give an answer like:
- I’m not very good at it…
- I know I could get better
Exactly. So let’s work on that right now.
First of all let’s take a minute and think about your mindset in regard to giving constructive feedback. Many leaders I work with get a little hung up on the idea that giving the constructive feedback could potentially cause damage to the relationship with the recipient of the feedback.
To that I say, “Are you kidding me? It is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a leader – to help people improve their performance!”
I think about football coach, Lou Holtz, who said something beautiful that really stuck in my mind. He said, “I never attack the performer I always attack the performance.” Hold in your mind that you’re simply critiquing the performance.
So get your mind right. It’s your job to help drive better performance and you are simply critiquing performance not critiquing people.
Now let’s get into my Playbook and look at the steps of constructive feedback.
Four Steps for Constructive Feedback
Let me use an example: Joe on my team failed to check his work on a recent IT project he was working on. The breakdown caused a failure on our website and caused us to have service interruption to our clients.
Context are the words around the words that help set the backdrop for the feedback.
Hey George, you got a minute – I need to give you feedback about the breakdown at the site yesterday. Having the site running error free is critical to our success and I want to make sure you and I are doing everything we can do to make that happen. I also want help you shine in your role on the team.
Providing concrete information is a vital step to ensuring the feedback is clear and actionable.
I’d like to request you develop a checklist for you to test the site after you make changes so we can ensure something like this doesn’t get missed again in the future. I’ll need you to have that checklist and perform that checklist as a part of completing each revision.
Getting a commitment is super important to making sure new actions occur in the future.
So can I get a commitment from you that you will develop and deploy a checklist so we don’t have this issue again the in future? (Make sure and have the recipient verbally give the commitment.)
Making a connection at the end is a good way to build a solid, long lasting relationship.
Let me just check in with you and remind you how important this work is to our team and how happy we are having you on our team. Is there anything you need from me to enable you to perform at the highest level? Is there anything else we need to discus about this? OK thanks.
Coach’s Insight: Most leaders are not highly skilled at giving this type of feedback and as a result they suffer and complain about their under-performing teams. If the leaders could focus on strengthening this skill they will be happier and ultimately their team members will appreciate well delivered feedback and they will enjoy higher performance.
Pete Walsh is a demanding, courageous and playful Master Certified Coach in Phoenix, Arizona, and the founder of Peak Workout Business Coaching and the Family Business Performance Center. Check out Coach Pete’s free tools: the Family Business Landmine Detection Map and the Family Business Survival Kit.