In my position as a Communication Coach, I hold a tremendous responsibility to give important feedback to people who are sometimes in vulnerable positions. It has always been my intention to give this feedback in a way that is empowering, and I make sure I include practical ways to improve.
I’ve been asked many times by clients, how is it that you can give this feedback and keep the recipient feeling whole? How is it that you can basically tell someone they are an arrogant jerk and they end up thanking you?
So here is the deal. I follow some rules and, if I don’t deviate from them, it ends up being a good interaction. If you are a Team Leader, Manager, or the head honcho, you will be required at some point to give some feedback, and it might not be easy. If you follow these suggestions, it will go a lot smoother with better results.
Teresa’s Rules For Giving Feedback
1. First, I complete a Power To Connect Worksheet. I complete this before any important communication. It allows me to focus on the person and specific piece of communication that I am delivering.
2. Only one thing. Don’t try to fix everything as that will only lead to a sense of overwhelm and insecurity. Focus on one thing.
3. Hearing the feedback is one thing, understanding WHY it is important is another. Make sure you let them know why it is important to change. Explain in detail what the cost is if they do nothing? For example, I have worked with many sales people over the years and have dealt with some arrogant personalities. Some of these people are very successful so I can understand why they think its ok to be arrogant. The problem remains that sales are being lost because the attitude is off-putting. Internally, teamwork is reduced because coworkers resent trying to collaborate with someone who thinks they already know everything.
4. More often than not people will have heard the feedback before, or some variation of it. I always check in with them by asking if this feedback comes as a surprise. Invariably, the comments are that this isn’t the first time they’ve heard it. Let them talk about what they’ve heard and share their feelings. This will broaden their view and help them realize that this isn’t a “you vs. them” situation.
5. Always use a considerate tone. Be conscious of how you are being with them. Start with the intention of supporting someone being a better version of themselves, rather than promoting your own agenda and showing how smart you are. Be respectful and don’t just cut them off at the knees. You want them leaving the meeting standing taller than when they walked in.
6. Be careful to balance saying what needs to be said without crossing a line. Being in a position to provide leadership and guidance is a privilege and needs to be treated as such. Remember, you can’t take back what you’ve said after you’ve said it.
7. Language is very powerful and you MUST be responsible with the words you choose. If need be, practice out loud prior to the meeting. Anticipate the person’s reaction and how you will respond in a positive way.
8. Along with your feedback make sure you provide them with specific strategies, tools, or tasks so they understand how they can change the behaviour and improve.