Let’s be honest, giving corrective feedback to employees and colleagues can be tough. AND, receiving corrective feedback can also be challenging. Feedback is loaded with uncertainty for the giver and receiver. Receiving and Giving Feedback takes practice but not a “Wonder bread sandwich” approach.
Giving and Receiving feedback requires courage, empathy, clarity, skill building and a willingness to except that none of us are perfect.
For years, the recommendation on feedback has been to deliver feedback like a sandwich. First, the outer bread which is easy to chew, where feedback is easy to receive. The middle layer of the sandwich should be a little harder to chew on, feedback is more corrective and constructive. The outer layer of the sandwich is easy to chew again. In other words, praise, then critique, then praise.
In this approach, what do you think the Giver of feedback focuses on in the delivery? What do you think the Receiver hears?
There is a twofold challenge to the sandwich approach. In one way, the praise is substantial and the corrective feedback seems insignificant. In this case the receiver hears mostly praise and does not really have a plan forward to improve. Or, another way, the praise feels trivial and serves no purpose. In this case, there can be misunderstanding, defensiveness, and even lack of behavior change.
Let’s think about a better way forward on the critical skill of receiving and giving feedback.
First, I’m all in favor of helping people to see their strengths and notice what is going well. Yet, if I just tuck in a concern around all that I will not have presented feedback as a learning, growing opportunity. Strategically applying a strengths-based approach can build a culture of feedback.
A few tips for Giving feedback.
- Begin with Empathy “Leaders who don’t consider their employees’ perspectives when delivering feedback foster a tense environment in which trust and collaboration cannot flourish.”
- Ask Permission- “May I have permission to make an observation?” Feels different than…”That meeting did not go well, we need to talk about that meeting.” Giving people time and space to be ready to receive feedback is key.
- FeedForward– Focus on the future, help people to see the opportunity for change. What will be different next time?
- Strengths- When possible use strength finder results to help give feedback. People will be more open to receiving when they see that there is an opportunity to use their strengths in a more strategic and refined manner. Remember, 60-70% of our weaknesses are a misuse of our top 5 strengths.
- Focus- If you are giving feedback, don’t dump every frustration you’ve been storing up. Focus on one area of development, provide specific examples, and have a conversation about this ONE area of development. Brainstorm together what is contributing to this behavior? Ask the receiver to identify possible action steps going forward? How can the person use his/her strengths to change the behavior?
- Support– Provide the receiver with your thoughts at the end of the possible action step discussion. “May I also add a possible action step?”
- Follow up– Put a time on the calendar to check back with the person so there is accountability. This is an opportunity to give praise where improvements and suggestions for future development.
- Culture– Create a culture of giving and receiving feedback throughout the organization. If we normalize feedback up, down and sideways we create opportunities to grow and learn together.
What metaphor could your team adopt to help you enter into feedback as learners? If it’s not the sandwich approach, what works for your team?
“Leaders who don’t consider their employees’ perspectives when delivering feedback foster a tense environment in which trust and collaboration cannot flourish.”KeyStepMedia
*Next week, we’ll focus on the skill development for receiving feedback.