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Leading from the front and middle

Giving Effective Feedback 

Giving effective feedback is a very important management skill. It’s a powerful tool when used to highlight blindspots and potential development areas. While giving positive feedback should be relatively easy for emerging leaders, providing constructive responses to difficult issues can be a challenge. It’s a skill that requires regular practice. 
Before entering into a feedback conversation, it’s vital you are able to set it up for success. How the conversation is structured will set its tone and will have an impact on its overall effectiveness. 
Here’s a simple structure for conducting an effective feedback conversation:
 Observation  •Identify the issue/problem.
 •State clearly what it is.
 •Provide an example, make it short and factual.
 Impact  •Indicate how the problem impacts on you/on others – functionally and emotionally.
 •Outline why it’s important to address the issue.
 •Explain the consequences of not addressing it.
 Pause  •Give the other person time to digest the information.
 Suggestion  •Make a suggestion on what could be done better.
 •Ask the other person what could be done better.
 Response  •Allow the other person opportunity to share their thoughts on what you have just said.

Important considerations: 
•Before challenging other people’s behaviour, you need to consider what you have done to contribute to the issue. You’ll need to be able to acknowledge your contribution when you give the feedback. 
•Be very clear on your intent for having this conversation - it should be to resolve or, at least, move forward on the issue in some positive and constructive manner. It should not be to either lay blame or rehash old ground. 
Every individual – up and down the line - will respond differently to your feedback. Understanding what their response might be will assist you to manage the conversation.
Fight vs. Flight
  •  •‘Fight’ response people will make up every excuse to explain why the feedback is not true or doesn’t apply to them. 
  •  •Those in ‘Flight’ mode often hide from, ignore or allow themselves to be destroyed by feedback rather than using the information to correct performance or develop.

Rationalisation  vs. Literal Acceptance
 •When people rationalise their results they tend to justify their own behaviour, make excuses, or discredit the feedback given – and fail to pay attention to the really issues.
 •Taking feedback literally and then discounting the relevance will also see real issues remain unaddressed.
'That's interesting' vs. 'That's terrible
 •Some people believe that getting negative feedback is the end of the world, while others don’t react at all.
 •You’ll need to balance under and over reactions to ensure the feedback can be discussed appropriately.
 Paralysis of Analysis vs. Ignorance is Bliss  •People analyse what has been said so as to understand what is going on.
 •The need to dig too deeply, or not digging at all, needs to be balanced to consider the relevant facts and get on with it.
 A Healthy Response  •Receiving negative feedback is better than receiving no feedback at all - at least it may contain some suggestions for improvement.
 •The ability to perceive feedback as a welcome opportunity, a ‘gift’, will allow the feedback to be more effective.

The Power of Feedback, Joseph R Folkman, 2006
Practice is the key to providing effective feedback – as it is with most leadership skills. Timeliness is also important. Where appropriate, feedback should be given ‘in the moment’, so that issues don’t have the opportunity to fester and the conversation is relevant. 
Next time you have the opportunity to give feedback, take the few minutes required to plan and structure the conversation correctly. This will give you the best opportunity to achieve the desired outcome and build a leadership style that is appreciated by your team members. 
We’d love feedback on how your skill practice is developing – go to the FASTLEAD Forum. 

Providing effective, constructive feedback can be a challenge for emerging leaders. It’s a skill development that requires considered and regular practice.


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