Friday, August 24, 2012

How to Deliver Feedback

I worked with a woman who was allergic to the words “good job.” Seriously. Guidance and constructive criticism was a major part of her job, yet she was unable to do the simplest of things – give her employees verbal pats on the back.

Likewise, I’ve run into people, who love to give others feedback on their projects, whether requested or not, who only deliver the negative stuff. What? How long do you have to live to understand that is not the way to handle performance reviews, guidance or assessments of anything actually?

The advice I’m about to give is going to sound so simplistic to many of you, but it’s apparently not as well known or understood as it should be. It was a recent run-in with someone about delivering feedback that prompted me to post this:

This is how you deliver a message which contains information the recipient really doesn’t want to hear:
  1. You find something good to say about the person, job or project.
  2. You deliver the bad news – as specifically and kindly, but honestly as you can.
  3. You end the conversation by reaffirming the good news you started with.

Sound too simple? It really is simple. Delivering good news first (and there is always SOMETHING good that can be said) relaxes the individual and lets them hear you. They are still not going to love your bad news but at least they know you’ve taken the time to find something good in them. If it’s a creative project, especially, the project equals their ego, so tread gently. No one wants to hear that they’ve just given birth to an ugly baby. When you wrap up with a reaffirmation of the good news, they relax again and just possibly hold on to your advice on how to fix or improve whatever you’ve discussed.

Again – I know this is going to sound preachy to some of you, but believe me, there are still bosses, friends and family members out there who can use this info.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Kathy. Positive feedback is an art many don't take to heart. It's a gift to be able to tell someone about a fault found without crushing them. I know writers can be harmed by inadvertent or just plain mean criticism.

    Kindness will grow on you(I mean people like me) if you are around good honest people looking to support.