Does the idea of giving feedback to someone make your stomach churn?

Are there issues in your team that you have avoided addressing?

Here red10 ‘s Sarah Barber describes a simple feedback approach that could make it easier.

First, catch others doing the right thing

I read the book The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard early in my career. The advice he gives to managers to “catch people doing the right thing” and praise them for it has stuck with me.

If your team is trying to establish new norms or meeting behaviours, it will help them to stick if you recognise and acknowledge when you see others adhering to them. E.g. “It was great that you did the pre-work, it helped us get off to a flying start in the meeting”; “Thank-you for bringing Anita into the discussion, we all benefited from hearing her view on the issue”.

If you want any constructive feedback to land with someone, it is important that they have also heard lots of positive feedback from you – research places the magic ratio for positive:constructive at 5:1.

I have seen very effective teams using “chat” in parallel with a virtual meeting to provide positive feedback to each other. It is a new opportunity that the need to work virtually has given us.

State the fact & ask a curious question

Inevitably team members will deviate from agreed team norms or meeting behaviours – especially if the norms are new and haven’t yet become habit. In this case, it is good to call it out.

We recommend stating a fact and asking a curious question – “Bob, we agreed to complete pre-reads and you didn’t do that. I am curious, why not? Then just wait for the other person’s response and you get a dialogue going. Easy huh?

Here is the hard bit. You must keep the tone of your question open and curious without a trace of judgement in your voice. It is easy to start making judgements and these can escalate in your mind in un-helpful ways – “Bob doesn’t prioritise things this team has agreed and so I can’t trust him”.

A genuinely curious question might elicit an apology from Bob and a promise to do the pre-read next time. Or it may lead to a discussion about an issue Bob is facing at at the moment – you might even be able to help. Or perhaps Bob is fully committed the day before your regular meetings and you need to agree to issue pre-reads earlier.

You cannot predict the outcome of the dialogue. The important thing is that you have it, get to the root cause of the issue and figure out together how you will uphold the team norms.

Interested in More Feedback-Giving Techniques?

Have you tried our thorough I’M SQIFFE steps, for when feedback needs to be handled carefully?

Have you experienced our Conflict Handling Masterclass, in which feedback tools are introduced as a way to reduce the chances of conflict happening in the first place?

Why not give it a try?

Just like establishing team norms, this approach to feedback takes practice until it becomes a habit. The team can support each other in giving positive feedback – you could even try a Circle of Appreciation at the end of a meeting. And to get all traces of judgement out of your question, just practise saying it aloud a few times until all you can hear is curiosity.