How to Give Feedback?

Dreading tough feedback? Learn how to deliver it like a gift! This guide offers actionable tips for senior leaders and managers, like using the "S-B-I-A" framework (Situation, Behavior, Impact, Action) and prioritizing respect and trust. Ditch annual review overload - embrace a year-round feedback flywheel to build your dream team through regular praise and growth-focused advice. Master feedback and watch your team soar!

Giving feedback, especially hard feedback, could be tough and even painful. You might be dreading and avoiding giving feedback despite knowing deep down that it is one of your core responsibilities as a senior leader or a manager. At the same time, you are here reading this article because you know that good, actionable feedback is one of the main ways we learn and grow.

Feedback is a gift we can give others to support their journey. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Prepare for the conversation. Clarify your thoughts, and be ready to deliver clear and concise feedback. And do not sugarcoat it because that will create a confusing message.
  • Structure your message to explain the Situation (the context), Behavior (what did this person do), Impact (what was the outcome of their behavior, how did it impact others and the business), Action (what would be good actions for this person to do next time in a similar setting). Using this framework will be a forcing function for you to support your message with specific examples and suggestions.
  • The existing relationship and the trust between you matter. The level of trust needs to be at a level for the other party to consider you sincere, listen to you, and act on the feedback.
  • Be respectful. Choose a good place (private) and time (where they are not in a rush), and be prepared to take the time and listen. After your initial meeting, offer them time to digest the message and meet again at a later time of their choosing to discuss the next steps.
  • Do not delay. It would be much better to deliver feedback closer to when the behavior happened, and it is still easy for everyone to remember the details.
  • Do not overdeliver. Nobody is perfect, and nobody needs to receive feedback about every small thing. Deliver feedback that matters and that will grow this person in noticeable ways. If you ask a person to improve in many different avenues, they might fail to make progress in any of those. Even worse, they might get defensive and not listen to you.
  • Follow up. Like a football team coach, follow up on the progress of the person receiving and acting on the feedback. If it is not working out, you can deliver the same message in different ways or ask other trusted folks to help and deliver a similar message.
  • Praise more often than you deliver constructive feedback. Acknowledging hard and good work is not just as important; it is at least five times more important for effective feedback. Praise your team regularly and publicly for their accomplishments.

Here is an example of how you can convert annual performance reviews into a fly-wheel for building a highly successful team: Instead of waiting until the end of the year to deliver a bucket load of feedback, gradually deliver chunks of actional feedback year-round. Doing this will also help you build trust, as your team will see your sincere efforts in assisting them to grow. Increased trust between you will help you address more significant issues together as a team.

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