“If you’ve got an organization where feedback is not freely given, then in my view, it should start with leaders because they need to role model and make it safe for other people to then engage.”
Feedback is the single greatest tool in the leadership toolbox and is one that leaders must get better at using. Some of the patterns Leisa has seen is leaders not tackling the tough stuff and when these issues are addressed, the situation is being attacked in a ‘wishy washy’ way. The risk with being vague is that the outcome takes longer to be reached.
Leisa Molloy is a master’s qualified workplace psychologist, facilitator and leadership development consultant, who has spent more than 17 years helping leaders navigate important workplace conversations. According to Leisa, “A bad feedback conversation is one that actually doesn’t happen because that is probably one of the most common issues when it comes to feedback,” she says.
The focus of today’s episode is how to prepare, what the good and the bad looks like and the final stages of an ideal feedback conversation.
Providing feedback in a timely way is so important and the first step is getting really clear on the intent. Knowing what it is you want for the person sitting in front of you by framing the conversation or the words that you share. This skill is called contrasting.
Contrasting is essentially contrasting the intention you don’t have, versus the intention you do have, to avoid misperception. By bringing positive intent the conversation can be approached more confidently and it says to the other person, “Hey, I’m in this with you, I’m here to support you,” rather than just deliver the feedback and not care. The aim is to create psychological safety.
One of the big things to focus on when it comes to receiving feedback is to try to be curious, open and aim to figure out what the message is that the person is trying to convey. It is a good idea to prepare some questions such as, “What are one or two things that I could focus on first?” or, “What would be the critical thing that you would like to see me do?” as well as asking where the feedback has come from and where the feedback is going.
Have you read: How to Communicate and Be Heard – Amber Daines
Good and bad feedback sessions
The aim is to give constructive feedback and this can be done by taking some time to really reflect on the facts, evidence and what you can bring to illustrate your point. Use good open-ended questions such as ‘what’ and ‘how’ rather than ‘why’ and if you aren’t a good listener, find a way to remind yourself to reflect on what might be happening for the other person, show empathy and create some space for them.
It all comes back to being clear about what people need to know to do their job effectively or to be able to operate at their best. The key is to be specific and provide examples of what success, good behaviour and outcomes could look like.
A less effective feedback conversation is:
- Often very biased
- Quite vague/wishy-washy
- Too harsh with a lack of safety for the person receiving the feedback
- Not framed as a dialogue
Have you read: How to Motivate Employees in the Workplace – Erin Jewell
The final stage of an ideal feedback conversation is action planning. This can be achieved by having some follow-ups in place. It is good practise for both parties to capture notes and/or key takeaways and to share any commitments as these can be easily revisited. It is also important to ensure that the necessary support is in place to achieve success.