Feedback that works in 5 steps!

Giving feedback is an art and a skill that contributes to creating a culture of trust! It also boosts the performance of the entire team. I increasingly notice that while much is said about the importance of feedback, few people actually master it. That’s why I’m sharing 5 steps in this blog to help you get started or improve.

Often, we hear nothing when things are going well, but we hear something when we do something wrong. Do you recognize that? Nelson Mandela once said: if I see something good, I give a compliment, and if I see something wrong, I offer help. What a beautiful foundational intention.

In healthy environments, feedback is given regularly, clearly, and promptly. True leaders can handle criticism well; they don’t take it as a personal attack but see it as a starting point for making changes. They are also good at giving feedback themselves.

What happens if feedback is not used? There are often unspoken irritations, and people talk about each other instead of to each other. Let’s be honest: giving feedback also requires courage and a certain level of self-awareness. This builds trust with the other person, strengthens relationships, and deepens them when feedback is given with attention and in the right way. Feedback is a form of relationship management. This, in turn, makes it easier to give feedback.

Feedback helps to understand each other’s behavior, to encourage positive behavior, to correct negative behavior, to prevent and resolve conflicts, to clarify relationships between people, and to increase understanding and insight into each other.

Feedback is the reflection on the effect of someone’s behavior. It always relates to changeable behavior. It requires a professional, open attitude characterized by mutual respect and trust (also known as rapport).

Several conditions are essential for giving effective feedback:

  • Focus on a positive intention. Always give feedback with respect.
  • Use the “I” form. This helps avoid judgment and reduces resistance. Focus on the issue, not the person.
  • Timing is important. Give feedback as soon as possible after observing something, but delay if you’re not in a good mood (e.g., angry).
  • Control your emotions and observe the emotions of the other person.
  • Be specific and concrete and avoid bringing up unrelated issues during feedback.
  • Align with the other person; the most powerful way is to match body language. For example, if the other person is sitting, sit down as well. This contributes to a better sense of trust.

How do we give feedback? Here are 5 steps to maximize your chances of success:

5 Steps to Feedback (I. I. You.)

  1. Ask for permission. Can I give you feedback? See this as the respectful warm-up round.
  2. I see that, I hear that. Here you specifically describe what you have heard, seen, etc. Provide sensory, concrete, and observable facts, not opinions or judgments. Starting the sentence in the “I” form is very important. I. Here you indicate what it does to you and/or what impact it has on the organization. You can also express your feelings (but control your emotions).
  3. You. Here you make the connection to the other person, for example, “Do you recognize that?” or “Do you understand what I mean?” Check if and how the message has been received.
  4. Suggestions. Then share how you would like it to be different and align with each other.

Example: I had an appointment with you at 10:00 this morning, and I see that you arrived half an hour late. I find that inconvenient because now we don’t have enough time to prepare for the client meeting, and I don’t think that’s professional. Do you understand what I mean?

It’s important to see how the other person responds. Someone who receives feedback correctly will always thank you and respond carefully.

In conclusion: the above requires practice, making it much easier when behavior needs to be corrected. And give compliments: do it more often, but always sincerely. It easily brings out the energy and qualities of the other person.

Are you a leader? Teach your employees how to give feedback and encourage it within your company. You are the example: ‘walk the talk’.

Let me know below how you handle feedback in your organization, I’m curious!

Do you want more useful tips to help you stay focused on your business and lead your team? Then read the book “Mijn Beste Team Ooit! In 7 stappen naar Golden Leadership”. Now also available as an e-book and audiobook. And if you are reading this as an entrepreneur, also read my second book on how to achieve better business results and avoid pitfalls.

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