How to Deepen Feedback and Foster Improvement
Posted 12.4.14The real problem with feedback is that, regardless of how skillfully it’s given, people often don’t know what to do with it.
From Yahoo Small Business Advisor
by Liz Kislik
The real problem with feedback is that, regardless of how skillfully it’s given, people often don’t know what to do with it.
Recent neuroimagery research by Richard Boyatzis suggests that focusing on positive possibilities gives people room to think about how to be upbeat and open-minded as opposed to anxious, negative, and close-minded. This may also help them connect the feedback with how they want to behave going forward.
Feedback Can Be Easy
If you want to suggest areas of improvement, propose changes in behavior or processes, it’s better to introduce these topics to an employee when they’re in an open-minded state of mind rather than defensive and closed-minded. So, unless you’re in a crisis situation, always start any feedback session with what’s working well.
Once you know the employee’s mind is open, ask about potential: “Could you try X?” Or: “Does the possibility exist for X?” Always avoid potentially threatening questions such as: “Why didn’t you do X?” Or: “How could you have done X?” Instead, try: “What would you like to do about X?” Or: “Will you commit to X?”
A positive approach helps prevent the kind of “swooping and pooping” that happens when an exec gets something off his chest by dumping it on a subordinate’s desk, but doesn’t clarify the real issues or provide a forum for the subordinate to respond.
Collaboration Can Be Hard
What you’re after is establishing a solid working relationship, not simply “checking off the box,” as in: “I’ve told him, so now it’s his problem.”
If negative feedback is delivered with no sense of shared context, partnership, or collaboration, or if the employee feels no sense of connection, commitment, or relationship, then the feedback session can come across as an uncaring attack. And nobody wants a problem plopped on the desk without at least some help figuring out how to understand it, clean it up, or recover from it.
Originally published on lizkislik.com.
Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.