Give great feedback

Feedback is a gift.

Giving great feedback is an art and a science.

For many companies, there are often two formal times when we document feedback:
  • The Year End Review -- a management-led process that combines personal assessment and community assessments
  • The Mid-Year Review -- a management-led process that is much more lightweight and focused on more of a check-in or promo moment
For mid-year reviews, I encourage teams to document their assessments and comments for each other as a "Peer Feedback" review. They give each other non-anonymous documentation of any constructive or positive feedback they have for each other.

For any feedback "process" to work, it has to be built upon a stronger foundation of constant feedback. While most people can cognitively grasp that feedback should be given in-person and as soon as possible, it helped clarify choices and timing when I put it into a diagram. I created this flowchart a few years ago that gives clear guidelines for how to give feedback and when:

Give feedback as soon as possible, in person. That assures our documented feedback is capturing information that has already been shared with the individual--and should never be a surprise.

And what should and shouldn't be said when giving great feedback?

Great feedback is concrete, constructive, actionable.
    Effective feedback requires:
  1. The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient
  2. The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient
  3. The feedback is conveyed with good intentions
  4. The timing and circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate
  5. The feedback is given in an interactive manner
  6. The feedback message is clear
  7. The feedback is helpful to the recipient
    Feedback Do’s:
  • Be specific when recalling the situation
  • Be specific when describing the behavior
  • Acknowledge the impact of the behavior on you
  • Make it positive
  • Make it only about behavior
    Feedback Don’ts:
  • Don’t assume
  • Don’t judge the person
  • Don’t be vague about feedback
  • Don’t pass along vague feedback from others
  • Don’t give advice unless asked
The only response required from the recipient: "Thanks for the feedback!"

If you've created a positive, constructive environment, the recipient may want to ask clarifying questions and engage with you about the feedback. But don't force it, that is up to them.

How do you think about feedback? And how do you coach to help others give great feedback?