Giving feedback is a gift that shows you care, and that you notice. People should always learn and benefit from the feedback you give. Make it a right for everyone in your firm to receive valuable feedback. Here are some pointers:

1. At the start of the conversation, give a brief headline and sub-heading of what you want to talk about. This way the other person does not have to worry about what is coming next. 

2. Give the other person an opportunity to talk early in the conversation; for example, by asking for their thoughts on the topic you are raising or, asking what they would like to talk about.

3. Ask reflective questions at regular intervals through the conversation.

4. Make giving and receiving feedback a regular conversation, so it becomes part of how ‘you do things around here.’ This means that you too must ask for regular feedback about your impact.

5. The other person should learn something from your feedback. Be clear and specific. Remember, people often don’t know what they do well until you tell them, so positive feedback is as important as negative.

6. Work on a ratio of 1 : 5 where you give one piece of negative feedback for five pieces of specific, positive feedback. This is a rough guide to make sure that you give more positive feedback than negative. It is easier to notice the negative so this technique will sharpen your own appreciation of performance standards.

7. Always follow up feedback with an action plan. Where you are discussing a performance change then make sure you have some development suggestions at the ready.

8. Ask the other person ‘what you can do to help them more?’

9. Think carefully about the language you use; for example, avoid telling a high achiever they need to improve. Mirror their language and their body language and aim to raise the bar and give a bigger challenge.

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©Janice Caplan 2020