By following this feedback model, you can remove emotions from your feedback conversations and help your people focus on improving their performance instead of getting defensive.
If we want people to improve, we have to give them feedback. Now, feedback can be really difficult because we feel like, “Maybe I might hurt their feelings, or I have to share an uncomfortable conversation, or I’m telling somebody who I really like and respect that they’re falling short in some regard.” So we avoid feedback, but that’s a huge mistake—especially as the leader of a high performing team.
I’d like to offer an example of a feedback model that can remove the emotion from it and help people focus on improving performance versus getting defensive. The model goes like this:
First, you’ll ask for permission to give somebody feedback and ensure, at that moment, that they’re open to receiving it. Their head may not be in it. They may have come out of a tough meeting or they’re in a rush to go to their next meeting, so making sure they’re ready to receive feedback is critical.
Next, they should let you know that they’re open to receiving that feedback. The next step really matters a lot in terms of removing the emotion from it. You’re going to offer a fact-based observation of something you saw them do, and then confirm that they know it happened so that you’re operating from a common base of fact. They should then confirm to you that they recall the event.
Then you need to let them know, “This is how that made me feel. This is how we that event impacted me. Or, this is how that event impacted somebody else on the team.” Then ask, “Can you see why your behavior impacted me that way?” Hopefully, they can then understand why you felt that way and put themselves in your shoes.
Now comes the request for change. Let them know specifically what behavior you want them to demonstrate going forward and ask them for their commitment to that behavior. Hopefully, they’ll commit to making that behavioral change. Then you thank them for being open to that feedback and for committing to the change, and ideally even offer them, “Let me know how I can help you make these changes if there are things I can be doing differently to support you.”As we walk through this feedback model, hopefully I’ve removed emotion from the conversation and helped them focus on a specific behavior and a specific change that’s delivered in a very non-threatening way.
As you think about providing feedback to your people, I encourage you to follow this feedback model and see how it goes.
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