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Tips for Strengthening the Feedback Loop

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Very early in my career I worked for an organization that placed a high value on building staff skills to communicate effectively, including training in how to give and receive feedback and how to coach others to do the same. I still think about this a lot, and given the headlines about how 65 percent of employees want more feedback (and the number increases for employees under 30), there is a lot of information out there about the importance of improving this skill.

It seems like such a simple thing, but it turns out most of us are pretty bad at giving feedback. There are a lot of reasons – we prefer to avoid conflict, we don’t want to be unkind, we don’t have time. These feelings are largely rooted in assumptions we have about how people feel about receiving feedback, many of which don’t reflect reality.

Here are a few of my favorite resources on feedback – they are all quick to check out and easy to digest!

  • If you have 90 seconds and want a simple explanation about why feedback is so important and the basics of giving good feedback, I highly recommend Radical Candor Story. It’s a brief story about a moment that inspired Kim Scott, author and CEO leadership coach, to consider the value of direct, impromptu feedback.
  • Long-standing advice on giving feedback may not be serving us very well. Consider the “feedback sandwich” approach – couching critical feedback between two pieces of positive feedback – which professor and author Adam Grant warns against (Stop Serving the Feedback Sandwich). Instead Grant encourages an approach that balances being direct with considering the other person’s perspective. One example is asking someone’s permission to give feedback – “Hey, I noticed an ineffective interaction between you and the team in our meeting earlier, do you want me to tell you about what I observed?”

I hope to renew my commitment to feedback – both giving it and receiving it well – in 2018, and I invite you to join me!

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