The Essential Component of High Performance
When someone asks how they did. I realize I haven’t done well at giving feedback. I’ve been passive not active.
I’ve never heard high-performers say, “I get too much feedback.” They crave more. On the other hand, I’ve never met a leader who gave enough.
High feedback leaders develop high performance cultures, when feedback’s done well.
Effective feedback energizes; nitpicking de-motivates.
- One way. You give but don’t invite feedback. It’s frustrating. Still worse, it’s belittling.
- Always negative.
- Low benefit.
- Demoralizing. Watch people when they walk away. Do their heads always hang and their shoulders droop?
People who crave feedback include:
- New hires.
- Freshly promoted employees.
- Those facing new challenges.
- Self-critical downers.
- Highly motivated achievers.
People who resist hearing feedback may be:
- Insecure and fearful.
- Not committed to the pursuit of excellence.
- In over their heads.
The first step to great feedback isn’t
performance it’s expectations.
Explore, explain, establish, and agree upon performance expectations before increasing feedback.
Fuzzy expectations make negative feedback feel like an ambush. “Why are you giving me negative feedback about “xyz” when you never told me you expected “xyz.” %*#!!
How to begin:
Begin giving more feedback by explaining
your intent and asking permission.
“I want to enhance our performance and build confidence. I’d like to begin sharing feedback more frequently. How do you like receiving input on your performance? How do you feel about giving me feedback on my performance? What are your concerns?”
Positive feedback is best served alone.
Don’t use it to buffer “bad” news. See the good – say the good – walk away. An abundance of positive feedback creates environments where corrective feedback goes down more smoothly.
What feedback tips or warnings can you share?
What does great feedback look like?
I agree that abundance of positive feedback is not much effective. Feedback has to be two ways with proper justification. The important thing about feedback is relationship. Relationship determines the acceptance or rejection of feedback. The one who provides feedback without knowing you might be right, but you will not accept his or her feedback positively. Giving feedback is a sensitive process. We do not know how receiver will perceive it. In case it creates negative feeling, it can hamper relationship. So, one needs to understand the context and acceptance level of target before giving advices.
Great feedback looks like strengthening relationship and consistence improvement. Sometimes it leads to transformation of individual personality and thought process.
The most important component in giving feedback is the authenticity. There should be a great sense of trust between target and source. There should be good understanding between them. Over and above, there should be no feeling of complex or low confidence etc. Person receiving advices should feel respected in all aspects.
I’m thankful you brought the relational component to this discussion. You really nailed some important and useful points.
Relationships are the foundation of the feedback process and relationships can be strengthened by the feedback process.
It may help to ask ourselves, “What type of response are my style and content calling for?” What type of relationship does my tone suggest?
Thanks for sharing your insights,
Great advise. We so seldom hear great feedback from others.
Thank you Eddie. 🙂
I’m not a big fan of the “f” word, feedback. It has a negative connotation.
“Dan, do you mind if I give you some feedback?”
You immediately think I’m going to tell you what you did wrong.
I prefer to be curious.
For example, making an observation about their demeanor. “Dan, I noticed you were anxious during that presentation.” Then follow up with an inquiry question such as: What were you feeling? OR What did you do well? OR What will you do differently next time?”
With each interaction, I’m about deepening the learning for the individual.
As usual, you bring useful ideas to the table. Thank you.
Avoiding the feedback term and embracing a coaching approach makes sense.
It’s disappointing that feedback has a negative connotation, but it does. Perhaps we should begin saying, “May I give you some feedback?” And then follow it with positive remarks.
It takes 6 positive interactions to balance out 1 negative. I’m a huge fan of positive communication. Lack of it is the reason we have negative work cultures.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
BTW… I used the “F” word descriptor in a tweet…. 🙂
From the receiver’s viewpoint, great feedback is:
1) something that is being said to improve me or improve the product we are working on (based on our relationship, I trust the motive of the person giving the feedback)
2) honest (I know he or she believes the feedback)
3) something I can argue with if I disagree with it.
With that criteria in mind, giving feedback must show that the intent is to help (the product and the person), must express as best I can what I believe, while staying open to more information and different perspectives.
I particularly enjoy your suggestion to lead with positive intent. If we aren’t in it for the best of everyone involved then we are in deep doo dah.
Thanks for adding value.
i agree that positive feedback should be served alone and not as a backdrop or cushion against negative feedback – this is one of the best pieces of advice I have read in a long time- I am going to remember it and I am going to use it
by giving just the positive feedback you are not spoiling the good with the bac
KaChing! Well said. (Note that I’m not adding anything to your comment) 🙂
thank you – and you were the author of a perfect post today (notice, that I too, am not adding anything else(
Thx for positive feedback. However, I would have enjoyed some specific examples… Hmmm, is that “negative” feedback?
In response to leadership qualities and patience I posted http://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/nothing-to-do-with-leadership-qualities-how-to-sustain-learning-action-and-patience/
Dan – Good stuff as always. And I thought to mention that I wrote up four pages in my newsletter recently around designing a High Performance Feedback System that addresses a lot of your key points. One focus is on making that system self-assessing, so that the performer can see their own data without HAVING to get feedback from another. Sometimes this is hard to do, and sometimes not so hard. In my experience, top performers often do this themselves regardless of what the company measures.
You can see more about it at http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/Newsletter_Archive_s/57.htm
The newsletter is about assessing current systems and redesigning for improvement. Practical stuff…
Scott, thanks for sharing. Valuable and practical. Maybe it will help shape some thinking.
One of the great things about the LF community is when others share useful content that takes the conversation deeper than I could in 300 words..
Dan, I enjoyed this post, in a culture where leadership and performance are important, we may miss the mark on providing enough feedback timely. I am going to share this with my team and hopefully the takeaway will be more positive feedback, while clarifying expectations and creating a culture of openness, clarity and excellent leadership.
Thanks for the good word. You encourage me.
I’d love to hear how it goes.
Dan, there may not be anything more important going on in leadership than feedback (conversation). The overwhelming number of leaders I have seen and worked with see feedback as synonymous with Performance Reviews, and immediately equate it with “that thing I have to do for HR.” Unfortunately, years ago, PR’s became part of the compliance foundation. That made it seem that PR’s were part of the compliance end game rather than a vehicle for creating a more engaged workforce and higher performing culture.
What seems to get missed, is that feedback is a 45 second to 2 minute conversation about a specific assignment, about expectations, about establishing better clarity, about a behavior. It IS frequent, but it isn’t time consuming when done in the flow of the work being done, and actions taken. Frequency is about longevity. The newer the person, the more frequent the feedback (daily, weekly), as the person is more experienced and clear about the job, the frequency declines, but I would still interact monthly to share results and see how they’re doing.
We do a lot of things in leadership, but few will have the impact in performance and motivation than feedback, or whatever you prefer to call the conversation about how you are doing in your job, and updating you about changes in process, procedures, clients, organization, team, etc.
You’ve added to a series of powerful contribution to this conversation. Well said!
I love the little nugget tucked away in the middle, “Frequency is about longevity.” So true.
People long for the type of feedback you’re describing.
Short – practical – frequently affirming – occasionally corrective…
While the SMART(ER) acronym is often associated with precursor to action, it may fit just as well in a descendant position. Is the feedback:
*Measurable (for all to see),
*Aligned (rather than attainable),
*Relevant (to future endeavors)
*Timely (this may be most important)
*Ethical (is it framed positively)
*Rewarding (does the receiver find it helpful)
Timely has foundation pieces that have to be in place before the the feedback cycle occurs. As others have noted, that it is an expectation of the organization and that it is consistently done as soon or as regularly as possible, always that it occurs.
The receiver should be able to make your connection of alignment of her/his actions with the vision, mission and values of the organization.
And the last R, rewarding, means that you as the sender of feedback now become the receiver of feedback on the feedback and learn if it was cogent and applicable. While that may seem to fall under the Department of Redundancy Department, you need to know how/if your feedback was not just heard, but integrated. That completes the full cycle.
All of this, if done regularly, can be done within 5 minutes, with some external prep time of course.
The comments get gooder and gooder … 🙂
I enjoyed everything you added and especially, “get feedback on the feedback.” This act of humility strengthens relationship, shows respect, and illustrates an across the board passion for excellence.
When feedback only flows down hill it starts to smell… You know what flows down hill… Both directions sweeten the air.
Your blogs always inspire me. This blog could also be directed towards parents. I have a teenager and as her leader I’m always trying to find better ways to motivate instead of anger her. What I liked most about the article was the part about not buffering bad news with positive feedback. It has given me a better idea of how to reach out.
Thanks for the post. This is a great topic that so many leaders need to practice; and you said it quite well.
For years I was a recipient of mostly negative feedback (when it was time to correct course) that went directly through my core; and the occasional (meaningless) positive feedback that was as worthwhile as washing your car moments after a collision.
Once I learned how to truly motivate through feedback; my life changed dramatically. I constantly look for an excuse to praise someone – and praise is specific. When I must correct, I wait until the proper words come to me (avoiding a reaction) while remaining relevant (24-48 hours). Corrections are extremely specific. I finish with a positive action plan for recovery or future situations.
I have found that this minimizes the feeling of an ambush and promotes healthy dialogue. It also trains my people on how I want to receive feedback – they have expectations of me as well.
You brought up some great points about expectation and ensuring the person understands what they are. I think that is vital. I also appreciated the point of serving positive feedback alone. I think many of us expect the negative on the heels of positive. Keeping it positive makes it easier to receive correction when necessary.
I must agree clear expectations are so important! I have realized early that if I don’t set good expectations that are clear it always becomes messy when it comes to holding them accountable.
I too have been startled when someone asks me “how they did.” I try so hard to give feedback, and it is almost never enough.
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