Giving Feedback the Right Way

Giving feedback is hard – sometimes we don’t even know how to give positive feedback in the right way, and it becomes even harder with remote team members. In The Feedback Fallacy, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall tell us how we’ve been doing it wrong.

The article is best accompanied by the podcast episode, What Managers Get Wrong About Feedback.

Some takeaways:

  • it’s easier to say ‘stop doing that’ instead of looking for strengths: ‘keep doing this’
  • sometimes we think we’re giving good feedback but in reality we’re saying “do it my way” when we should be saying “do it your way; here is where I think your way was working, and here’s where you lost me”
  • it’s really difficult to standardize what “excellence” looks like in different people. The best sports coaches record the winning plays in each game and say “this is what excellence looks like for you
  • There’s only 3 sources of input that are valuable to a team member: facts, steps, reaction.
    • Facts — if a person doesn’t know them, tell them.
    • Steps — if a job is defined by a few set steps and they miss one, tell them.
    • Reaction — your legit reaction “Look, my reaction to what you just did is I didn’t follow, I didn’t understand it”; “I’m confused and not convinced by the sales pitch”. You’re not telling someone they’re not strategic enough, you’re giving your honest reaction.
  • What managers should stop saying is “can I give you some feedback?” And they should start saying “here’s my reaction.” The most powerful thing you can do is give your reaction to what works.

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