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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Durant

The Power of Good Feedback

I remember the first time I received feedback - it was around 24 years ago, and I was working at one of the largest soft drinks companies in the world. It was a night shift and I had just had a pretty unremarkable hour of just the usual stuff: picking up falls cans, loading card into the packing machine, sweeping up and monitoring the production line, ordering packaging from the MRP system. My team leader came through to me and was buzzing, "Whatever you did in that last hour, try to do it again! If you can keep doing that, we'll be onto a record output from this line in a shift!". I remember feeling great; like what I was doing was actually contributing to something. And it certainly put a spring in my step. I remember paying special attention the rest of the night and working as hard as a could to get the record. As it happened, I don't think we managed it - maybe we had a change over, maybe there was a breakdown... I honestly can't remember. It's quite telling though that I remember the way my team leader spoke to me.

Over the years, I remember most of the feedback I have received, and it all had an impact. Unfortunately, some feedback had a bad impact down to one of several reasons: poor delivery, not given with good intent, vague or biased etc. Everyone should take time to develop better feedback technique but especially when in leadership roles.

A simple way to keep yourself in check when giving feedback is to follow the GIFT model (Good Intention Feedback Technique):

  1. Ask for permission to give feedback - people have to be receptive to feedback. If someone isn't in the right frame of mind, you should find another time to share feedback. You should always check yourself too. Giving feedback when angry, frustrated or in some other negative emotional state will not help.

  2. Be specific about what triggered you - share observations and data points so the receiver knows exactly what the issue is. Vague comments won't help the message land.

  3. Own your interpretation - you filtered the observations in your own way so make sure you are clear about this. Remember, it is you that got triggered. This is why giving second-hand feedback is a poor habit to get into.

  4. Listen to what the other person says - they are likely to be lots of reasons why they did what they did and, when you listen to their side of the story, you'll likely find your initial feelings may change.

  5. Make a change - once you've reached alignment on the issue and shared different perspectives, you can both learn from the instance. You may want to coach the person to try different approaches, maybe you can suggest something new or potentially you both need to take time to reflect on the situation.

It's quite simple, so you have no excuses now!

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