Providing Feedback is an Art

ID-100146228Maybe it’s because I teach on the subject of performance management and the importance of providing feedback, that I am especially sensitive to the way I see people actually providing feedback. I have written about feedback before, but the more I witness the act, and experience it myself, the more I am convinced that providing effective feedback to another human being is more art than science.

Complicated Processes

I have seen complex organizational diagrams about how a manager should provide feedback to the people on his or her team – that is definitely science. When it actually comes to providing feedback I prefer a more artful approach, so I developed my simple 3-step feedback process.

STEP 1: Tell the person what they have done well.
STEP 2: Share an area where you think the person could use some improvement.
STEP 3: Ask them what they think?

Order Matters

Where the art of providing feedback usually falls apart is when we get the order wrong and go to STEP 2 before STEP 1. If you start with STEP 2, I don’t hear anything you say after that. In many family or other close relationships we are tempted to ONLY do STEP 2. Now, while I appreciate receiving feedback from my family, if it only comes in the form of what I could be doing better, it begins to sound more like a rebuke than constructive feedback.

One person told me they like doing STEP 3 first, then STEPS 1 & 2. I am not a big fan of that. If I ask you how you think you did and you tell me how wonderful things are I think it makes it harder for me to be straight with you about where I see some improvement is needed. Providing constructive feedback is already tough enough without having to tell you that you saw it all wrong.

Leadership Matters

No matter how you slice it, providing (and receiving, for that matter) feedback is an invaluable tool for a leader. You will increase your influence with others when you show you care enough about them to provide feedback on their performance and help them to grow and improve.

Are you providing feedback to others?
Are you asking for feedback from others?

For more information on Providing Feedback see my YouTube Recording

For more information on Receiving Feedback see my YouTube Recording

Photo Credit – freedigitalphotos.net – Photo by Stuart Miles

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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