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Stop Giving Feedback to Your Team

12 August 2015

Feedback is one of the most misused of management concepts. Management Consultants will continually talk about the importance of providing feedback to your team members as one of the essential requirements for running an efficient and profitable business.

Managing your team is something that has a number of facets, of course. This includes running good team meetings, giving them the right kind of guidance, and helping them manage stress as just a few examples.

However, providing feedback has often come up as one of the most difficult parts for many of my clients to get right.

Commenting on your employees’ work is not just about delicately giving constructive negative feedback, but it is also highly effective in keeping your team aligned with the business – which is very important in keeping them motivated.

In this video, I explain a concept that my consultant, Marshall Goldsmith, has taught me that will redefine the way you look at feedback.

Have you had trouble with giving feedback? Leave a comment on your main issue with giving feedback and we will discuss how you can start feeding forward instead.

If you would like to hear more about this please feel free to get in touch below.

Get in touch

We are looking to invest in good businesses.

If you would like to have an obligation free discussion about selling your business, please email shweta@growthidea.co.uk. You can find more about our investment criterion on https://growthidea.co.uk/private-equity.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

I very often get asked by my clients that what is the best way to provide feedback to their team members.

There’s a Problem With Feedback

Now providing feedback is one of the essential skills of a leader or manager and you need to make sure that the team member is aligned with where the company’s headed to, knows what you or she is doing, what the person is doing well and what the person needs to improve on. Now it’s an exercise which I’ve realized that not very many people enjoy because it’s very tricky to give that positive and also not so positive feedback to the other person.

There is also a fundamental problem with feedback. It is about the past. Something that cannot be changed, something that’s static, something that’s limited. What I want you to consider going forward is actually you placing feedback with feedforward. Now, this is the concept which I was told by my business consultant Marshall and I thought I would share it with you.

The Benefits of Replacing Feedback with Feedforward

Now there are some very clear benefits of replacing feedback with feedforward.

The first one is that successful people, they do not want to know what they’re not doing so well. They want to know the ideas of how they could become better.

The second is that people generally don’t take feedforward as personally compared to feedback. We might say that we are providing constructive feedback and it’s all about the performance and not about the person. But let’s face it, the sense of identity is so closely linked with the work that people are doing that the difficult to de-link. Then people getting to justifications and defenses go up and it just becomes a very different kind of an exercise compared to what you really want it to be.

The third benefit here is that the process of feedforward is a lot faster compared to feedback. A small tip there is rather than talking about the past, trying to prove why you’re right, the other person trying to prove why you are not right, and getting into a debate while still trying to be soft and not upset the person, you can instead do feedforward.

It’s pretty much like this: “Look, I’ve gone through what you’ve done so far, I’ve got four ideas, four suggestions for you to improve on what you’re doing. You might not want to consider all four ideas, but even if you consider 2 out of four, you’re still two steps ahead. I want you to think through it and once I finished telling you my four suggestions, I just want to say thank you. But we can come back and discuss the ideas that you want to take forward a lot more in detail.” And that’s it.

Then you tell them what are your four suggestions for moving forward. It is then generally difficult for people to critique it or criticize it because it has still not happened. You want them to think it through and come back with more detail.

As I’ve explained, in this process, people tend to listen more closely to feedforward than to feedback. You can imagine, I’m sure you’ve experienced this, that when you’re giving feedback to someone, they are actually thinking of their response in their head about how are they going to combat what you’ve said. How they are going to justify that they are right and you might not be that right.

Feedback is a Struggle, Feedforward is Productive Building

Finally, the way I see this is that as a leader, as a manager, it’s more productive to help people build themselves than to actually get into that whole struggle of trying to prove a point, which is not something that I’m sure you enjoy or you want to get into.

So, once again, enjoy giving feedforward to people. What is it that they can improve moving forward because done is done. Let’s see what we can do with the future.

If you would like to hear more about this please feel free to get in touch below.

Get in touch

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We are looking to invest in good businesses.

If you would like to have an obligation free discussion about selling your business, please email shweta@growthidea.co.uk. You can find more about our investment criterion on https://growthidea.co.uk/private-equity.

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