4 Principles that Enable Effective Feedback and High Performance
Gallup found that only 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.
37% of managers don’t give positive feedback. (Zenger/Folkman)
Feedback principle #1. People prefer affirmation to criticism.
When options are available, you choose to hang with people who affirm you and avoid those who criticize you. (“Negative Feedback Rarely Leads to Improvement,” HBR Magazine Jan.-Feb. 2018)
Have you given abundant praise? Try this experiment. Make tomorrow Affirmation Day. No criticism allowed. No complaining. None!
It’s not enough to lock yourself in the office and refuse to talk to anyone on Affirmation Day. Get out and talk to people. Silence isn’t affirming.
Reality check: I tried this exercise. I lasted 30 seconds. (How to Stop Complaining)
Positive communication elevates relationship.
Use the 4:1 ratio as a daily gauge. Say four positive things for every negative. (I know, it seems outrageous.)
Positive relationships provide the foundation for tough conversations.
Feedback principle #2. Know the strengths and aspirations of everyone on your team.
Feedback that speaks to aspiration energizes. Irrelevant feedback is irritating. Don’t give leadership feedback to people who don’t aspire to leadership.
Note: Reassign or replace people when their aspirations don’t align with organizational mission.
Feedback principle #3. Shift from judging after-the-fact to describing in-the-moment.
- Describes behaviors.
- Occurs when the behaviors happen or as close to the occurrence as possible.
Try saying, “I know you’re working to run effective meetings. I noticed you interrupted Betty when she shared her idea. Betty didn’t contribute for the rest of the meeting.”
Feedback principle #4. Follow feedback with coaching.
Coaches turn conversations toward future concerns.
- What might you try when you feel the urge to interrupt?
- What options do you have when someone talks too long in meetings?
What practices enhance the effectiveness of giving feedback?
THIS IS WHY I READ THIS BLOG!! So good. That 4:1 ratio… that’s going to immediate use.
Thanks Dan. Your comment encourages me. Cheers
Good morning Dan.
Sitting on my screened in deck at 545 having coffee and enjoying some morning reading, listening to Queen as the sun rises outside Birmingham, Alabama. I have been a long-time reader and fan, and always find your posts to be excellent (short and to-the-point).
There are a lot of posts, blogs, and books coming out regarding feedback. It’s right up there with meetings! Why is it that we do so poorly at this topic? It would make sense that those of us in leadership, or with kids would realize how feedback can effect the hearer. He’d, even as kids ourselves, we realize that we wanted to be encouraged as children, rather than always talked down to. Why do you think it is “easier” to give negative feedback, rather than affirming and constructive feedback? Do you think it could be that we just have difficulty with healthy relationships in the workplace?
I look forward to your feedback, and that of your readers.
Spot on! Feedback in the moment is critical, as well as follow up coaching – thanks for the post!
Thanks Diane. Immediate feedback helps us see ourselves. We don’t give a dog a treat two hours after he did something good. 🙂
1. Describe the behavior
2. Discuss the business consequences of the employee’s behavior–how does the employee’s behavior affect the team, department, or overall company?
3. Offer to help–direct or discuss what changes are needed–be specific.
4. Indicate the possible consequences, if improvement doesn’t occur.
Thank you Dan! What are the options when someone talks too long in a meeting (It’s usually the same person) ?
Asking questions as feedback is brilliant. And I’m working on that 4:1 ratio. It’s hard to give that effective praise close in time and properly descriptive. But I agree that’s the only way that works.
I do like the idea of applying the 4:1 ratio as it allows a manager to look for gems that are not so obvious. Again, no one likes been criticized all the time.
Wow. Just wow. This the most effective, informative, practical information I have ever read. Thank you.
Feedback is definitely important. One of the links you shared I found really interesting, “Negative Feedback Rarely Leads to Improvement”. In this a researcher at the Harvard Business School tested theories about negative criticism. I never really thought about the idea that negative criticism is not always an eye opener for the recipient but rather, more often, a discouragement that prompts the recipient to escape his/her situation and find affirmation elsewhere. This is an important concept to consider when thinking about the importance of feedback. You hint at maintaining a balance between negative and positive comments with your 4:1 ratio which I think is a great exercise to get us into the positive mindset. I like that you do not discredit negative comments as being useless but instead you give them a place. The key here is to address behaviors as soon as they occur.
I worked in occupational health and safety a few years ago and this idea of urgency when addressing behaviors was paramount in facilitating cultural change. All of the concepts you have outlined in this post are key for any leader, and probably some of the most important aspects a leader should understand. Great post!
Thanks for the insight on feedback. I really liked the idea of the 4:1 ratio. A positive insight is definitely important for the success of yourself and any organization you associate yourself with and small changes will lead to huge results.