6 Words to Improve the Feedback You Give and Receive
Marketing Professional in Charlotte, NC
July 1,2020 at 2:01PM UTC
As a manager, it's vital to give feedback to help employees grow. As an employee, we must receive feedback and act on it. But often, the feedback we give or receive is unclear, causing confusion about what should be done, or too negative, causing the recipient to shut down rather than opening a dialogue.
During a management workshop, I learned a "feedback model" that I keep on a sticky note on my computer monitor to this day. It has helped me give and receive better feedback, and has been met with enthusiasm by my employees as well.
The feedback model has three parts:
1. I like...
2. I wish...
3. What if...
By starting with "I like," it reminds me to give honest, specific, positive feedback first. I read an article once that said, "You can really teach people what you expect by what you praise." This is such a positive way to begin a conversation. Just make sure your comments are authentic and show that you are truly paying attention to who the employee is, both as a person and as a professional. It sets the tone for the whole session.
Moving on to "I wish," this statement allows you to express how a situation could be improved without casting blame or pointing fingers. It opens a conversation, because it appeals to a shared vision of how the future could be.
Ending with "What if" gives me as a manager a way to suggest a possible solution without demanding it. When having a conversation, I prefer to let the employee suggest solutions to their behavior. So I end with, "What do you think could be done to improve this?" And let them make suggestions. If they don't have any ideas, then I can prompt with something, using "What if..."
For example, I had an employee who was constantly talking over other people in meetings. After a meeting, I pulled her aside to give feedback. "I like that you have the confidence to express your opinions," I said. "Some of your coworkers are not as confident as you are, and it seems they are not always getting a chance to share their viewpoints. I wish we could find a way to balance this as a team." These statements set the tone for a good discussion on her motivations and why she was behaving a certain way. She wasn't always aware of the behavior, which can make it hard to change. So I ended with: "What if we come up with a small signal I can give you during a meeting, to remind you to let others share their opinions too?" This was well received and has improved meetings significantly, without the employee completely shutting down or "pouting" about having to modify their behavior.
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