We’re getting close to that time of year when we are giving thanks and giving gifts. In the spirit of the season of giving, consider giving something unique and very valuable: the gift of feedback. Chances are, you are in a position at work, or in your personal life, where you have some form of responsibility for others. You may be a supervisor, manager, owner, parent, volunteer, or a member of a hobby group or sports team. Whatever the role, at some point, you probably have, or will have, the responsibility of providing someone else with feedback.
Providing feedback should not be something we dread and avoid. It does not need to be confrontational. Rather, the conversation should be approached as a positive interaction – a GIFT to help the other person be more successful going forward. By shifting the conversation from criticism to development, you can have a significantly positive impact.
I am sure you have had an experience when someone in your personal or professional life wasn’t doing what they were supposed to be doing. The topic comes up with others, when that person isn’t around. Others have noticed it too. It’s a bit of a problem.
But when that person is present, nothing is said. Business/activities continue. You, and the others who have noticed the poor performance, begin to stew in resentment. Yet still, nothing is said. Or worse, if you are a boss, you begin to have thoughts of “getting rid of the problem”.
But if you use some simple tips, you can have a constructive conversation with the person who isn’t performing as expected and help them to improve their results going forward. No one can improve if they aren’t given the opportunity to understand where they are coming up short.
Gap. Ask the person if you can speak with them. Help them see the gap between the expectation and what they are currently doing. Explain the impact of this missed expectation. Let them know why it is important that they do their part, assignment, or role; whatever it is that is specific to the situation you are addressing.
Ideas. Ask for ideas for meeting the expectation from this point forward. When asked to come up with what they can do differently going forward, you get their buy-in, because it’s their idea. They can then take ownership of their own behaviors.
Follow-up. Agree on follow-up steps and when you will meet again to review progress. Let them know you are available to provide guidance, as needed.
Thanks. Express your thanks, your confidence in them, and your commitment to supporting them through the process.
A great rule to follow: feedback is most effective when it is timely, specific, consistent, and sincere.
It can feel challenging to be the one responsible for delivering feedback, but if you say nothing, you are magnifying the problem. When you approach the conversation with an intention of helping, you will be giving someone the opportunity to be better in the future, and I can’t think of a better gift than that.