Giving feedback may be one of the most uncomfortable responsibilities of a leader. I have talked to leaders who have admitted to giving as little feedback as possible due to the anxiety this kind of interaction produces. On the flip-side, there are some leaders who do not hesitate to give feedback and often do it hastily and without skill, causing distrust to occur.
When you have developed a coaching relationship with a person and have effectively used the skills of listening and questioning you will find that you have laid a foundation to provide constructive feedback. Here are the 5 steps to giving effective constructive feedback.
1. Plan how you will give the feedback. I have not only witness, I’ve experienced what happens when a leader doesn’t think about or prepare how he or she will provide constructive feedback to another person. When we become uncomfortable or nervous we can easily have a brain freeze and either say something we don’t want to say or forget to say what we need to say. When giving feedback, take a few minutes to think and then write-out the one or two messages of feedback you want to communicate.
2. Point out the person’s strengths. Most people perceive feedback and coaching as a negative experience. This comes from many situations where we have heard only what we are doing wrong. Coaching leaders utilize positive feedback often to give people information about their strengths. This is a great foundation to set as you coach that builds trust and confidence in your leadership. Laying this foundation builds emotional equity that will allow you to provide constructive feedback.
3. Give the feedback message quickly and concisely. You’ve been there as an adult and as a teenager. The dreaded “Sermon.” This is when the person giving you constructive feedback won’t stop telling you what you did wrong or how to fix it. Nobody needs feedback in triplicate. After the first time, a person will raise their emotional resistance walls. Keep it short and too the point and then be quiet and allow them to respond or ask a question to gain clarity. Processing and acceptance, on their part, is the only way the person will begin moving towards change.
4. Get them involved in the change. The old management perspective would say now is the time to tell them how to change. Coaching leaders take a different road. By asking the person you are coaching what they believe they can do to change or move in the needed direction, you’re taking a more development oriented avenue that will pay many dividends in the future.
5. Express your confidence in the person. Everyone needs to feel encouraged. Especially after hearing constructive feedback. After providing the feedback take the opportunity to tell them that you have confidence in their ability to make the change. You can do this by stating this directly or by connecting the person’s strengths with the new direction.
If you are interested in more information about how to motivate, coach, and lead better, check out my eBook 28 Days to a Motivated Team available as an instant download here and at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.