How to Make Feedback Your Secret Leadership Weapon in 3 Simple Steps

Mark Lewis
August 12, 2019
min read
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It’s the digital era. Employees need to feel connected to their team and understand how they’re going in real-time. They expect helpful feedback in-the-moment, rather than saved up for months at a time. Giving feedback is not always comfortable, so what’s the easiest way to do it?

We recommend making the experience non-threatening and built on trust from the get-go. But where and how do you start?

Here’s how it works.

1. Start with Praise Only

Undo previously built mindsets that feedback = trouble. Praise is feedback. And done properly it is the most powerful feedback you can give. The key is to identify the specific behavior or outcome that you would like to see repeated.

Let the person know specifically what they did that was so good, and the impact that it had on you or the team.

Starting with praise sets you up for success:

  • It’s not awkward for the giver or recipient.
  • You’re building trust in the system, so if you need to bring up an issue it’s balanced by previous praise.
  • Most importantly you’re letting your team know what to do more of.

Try to share praise at least once a week with every team member.

2. Feed-Forward, Not Back

We recommend an entirely future focused way of doing feedback, you might even call it feed-forward. So what does that look like?

We could rephrase “Your presentation lacked visual impact and should have had more images.” …to be “Next time you give a presentation, consider adding more images to create greater visual impact.

When you feed-forward you are doing two things:

  • Creating an opportunity for the recipient to improve in the future, rather than criticizing what has been done.
  • Shifting your feedback from a ‘statement of fact’ to a ‘change to consider’.

You’ll note how we used the word ‘consider’ in the rephrased version. This simple change empowers the recipient by trusting them with the decision to implement your feedback or not. It immediately drops the automatic push-back response you’re likely to get if using authority to ‘tell’ people what to do.

3. Request Feedback

What better way for a leader to show that feedback is a part of the culture than by actively requesting feedback on their own interactions.

This doesn’t have to be a big deal, it could simply be asking “How can I help you to be more effective?

Here’s the thing, according to Dean Carter who heads up People & Culture for Patagonia:

Once employees begin to feel comfortable asking colleagues for feedback, a cascading effect takes place. The person who was asked to provide feedback is three times more likely to ask people for feedback on his or her performance. When you ask for feedback, you create generosity in the system and it explodes exponentially.*



4. Give Managers the tools to give feedback.

The SBI model, which stands for Situation-Behaviour-Impact, is a framework for giving feedback that focuses on describing a specific situation, the behavior that was observed, and the impact it had. Here are the steps to follow when giving feedback using the SBI model:

  1. Situation: Start by describing the situation or context in which the behavior occurred. This could be a specific project, meeting, or interaction.
  2. Behaviour: Describe the specific behaviour that you observed. Be as objective as possible and avoid making judgments or assumptions.
  3. Impact: Explain the impact that the behaviour had on you, the team, or the project. This can be positive or negative, but it should be specific and measurable.

For example, let's say you're giving feedback to a team member who frequently interrupts others in meetings:

  1. Situation: In our last team meeting, we were discussing the progress of our project.
  2. Behavior: I noticed that you interrupted several people while they were speaking.
  3. Impact: This behavior made it difficult for others to share their ideas and disrupted the flow of the meeting. It also made me feel like my contributions were not valued.

By following the SBI model, you can provide clear and specific feedback that helps the recipient understand how their behavior is impacting others. Remember to focus on the behavior itself and its impact, rather than making assumptions or passing judgment on the person.

Here are some further examples to show how feedback might be shared:

A client situation:

  1. Situation: During our client meeting yesterday.
  2. Behavior: I noticed that you kept checking your phone while the client was speaking.
  3. Impact: This behavior made it seem like you were not fully engaged in the conversation and it may have made the client feel like their concerns were not being heard or taken seriously.

Positive feedback for a team member

  1. Situation: In our team brainstorming session.
  2. Behavior: I noticed that you actively listened to everyone's ideas and asked clarifying questions.
  3. Impact: This behavior helped create a collaborative environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing their ideas. It also demonstrated your commitment to finding the best solution for the team.

5. Don't forget your team members

Empowering team members to give feedback has several benefits, including:

  1. Improved communication: When team members feel empowered to give feedback, it can create a culture of open communication. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  2. Increased accountability: Giving and receiving feedback can help team members take ownership of their work and hold themselves accountable for their actions.
  3. Enhanced problem-solving: Feedback can be a valuable tool for problem-solving. By providing constructive feedback, team members can identify areas for improvement and work together to find solutions.
  4. Better decision-making: Feedback can provide valuable insights and perspectives that can help inform better decision-making. When team members feel comfortable giving feedback, they are more likely to speak up and share their thoughts.
  5. Increased engagement and motivation: Empowering team members to give feedback can help them feel more engaged and invested in their work. When team members feel that their input is valued, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to the team's goals.

And it also models the behavior for others to see and repeat, building a feedback culture even quicker.

Here are some examples of employee led feedback that help build a positive and productive team culture

  1. Sales team member to Product team:

Situation: After several sales calls with customers, I noticed a recurring theme in their feedback regarding a particular feature.

Behavior: I wanted to bring this to your attention as it may be something that the product team could address in future updates.

Impact: By addressing this issue, we could improve the customer experience and potentially increase sales.

  1. Peer to peer:

Situation: During our team project last month, I noticed that you consistently completed your tasks ahead of schedule.

Behavior: I wanted to let you know that I was impressed by your efficiency and the quality of your work.

Impact: Your hard work and dedication helped our team achieve our goals ahead of time and made the project a success.

  1. Team member to Manager:

Situation: Over the past year, I have been consistently performing at a high level and taking on additional responsibilities.

Behavior: I wanted to express my interest in taking on a team leadership role.

Impact: With my experience and skills, I believe I could make a valuable contribution to the team and help support our overall goals.

Some of us at Crewmojo joke that we use the SBI model for feedback at the dinner table every night! It works well with children.

Overall, empowering team members to give feedback can help create a culture that is focused on continuous improvement and growth.

With Crewmojo, we help you amplify the praise process with our gentle nudges and workplace integrations. Team members can share praise into a public channel which gets others involved with re-enforcing the positive vibes or you can choose tomake it private. nd it also models the behavior for others to see and repeat, building a feedback culture even quicker.

Feedback is a critical part of continuous performance management and will always be found fueling modern cultures of performance.

Want to learn how Crewmojo might work in your team? Get a Personal Demo

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