Feedback is one of the most powerful developmental tools we have. Because of it’s power to develop or destroy – I want to discuss how to deliver this valuable tool. The delivery of developmental feedback takes tact and is different than delivering supportive (or positive) feedback. Here are 9 suggestions for framing your developmental feedback:

  1. Be specific – Sometimes, in our desire to be gentle, we under deliver our feedback. When delivering corrective feedback we must describe clearly what needs to be fixed
  2. Be timely – The closer to the event feedback is given – the better the opportunity for clarity in what needs to be adjusted. Timing also includes the persons readiness to receive the feedback. Good feedback delivered too early or too late does not achieve maximum impact.
  3. Focus on actions and behaviors – This means we don’t play junior psycholigist by trying to guess their motivation. Be carful of , “Jack you blew up at Jill today and I sensed it was because you didn’t sleep well”. When we try to decide motivation we will side track our feedback.
  4. Be honest – People need to be able to trust your feedback so be careful not to over deliver (“Mary you totally destroyed our team meeting”) or under deliver your feedback.
  5. Eliminate “but” – Whenever we get feedback like this, “Tanisha you did a great job on the report but you ….”, it is at best confusing. Instead of using the word “but” – try “and”. Using the word “but” often means disregard all previous information.
  6. 1 on 1 – Audience is key for receptivity. Often people will become defensive when corrective feedback happens in a group. In the beginning, when developing your feedback process, trust must be built. As trust grows – group feedback is not only possible – it is encouraged. Group feedback can have a development edge for the whole team. Make sure feedback is clearly a ladder and not a hammer when used in a group context.
  7. Suggest alternatives – Anyone can see what is wrong – that is not a gift. A good leader not only describe clearly what went wrong she/he suggests alternatives for the future.
  8. Never in email, text or voicemail – Because 90% of communication is non-verbal – face to face corrective feedback is the clearest mode. If we use email, text or even a phone call, not only can our feedback be misunderstood – our ability to understand the recption of the feedback is clouded.
  9. Leave the person whole – We must make sure our feedback is developmental and not destructive.
  10. Follow-up –I usually schedule a meeting a day or two later to check in with the person to whom I gave feedback. I ask some questions to check their understanding of what was said and their attitude for moving forward.

The currency of leadership is TRUST! As trust grows, the receptivity of feedback increases. Like any other tool – we get better with practice.

My next post- “How to Deliver Supportive Feedback” What would you add?