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.

Effective feedback:

  1. Describes behaviors.
  2. 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.

  1. What might you try when you feel the urge to interrupt?
  2. What options do you have when someone talks too long in meetings?

What practices enhance the effectiveness of giving feedback?