Ask permission before giving feedback

And be prepared to receive it too!

Giving feedback to staff is one of the most common challenges I support leaders to work through in their role. I see their relationships with staff deteriorating because ?real? conversations aren?t taking place and unwanted behaviours are being tolerated.

At a recent leadership conference I was reminded of a powerful question that, when asked prior to giving feedback, leads to a better conversation. This question is simply:

?Would you mind if I gave you some feedback??

You see, when you ask permission before giving feedback, you gain agreement and lower resistance from the other person. You also give them the opportunity to decline your feedback. This might happen if they just want to vent, they don?t want feedback, opinions or advice – they just want to feel heard. Continuing to give feedback at this point is a waste of time and can damage your relationship. So be prepared to keep it to yourself.

If you want to further improve how you deliver feedback then frame it in a way that gives context and removes bias and judgement. For example, if I had feedback to help you improve the way you greeted people, I might frame the conversation with an opening statement like:

?You mentioned in a conversation we had a few months ago that you?d like to build better relationships and expand your network. And we know that most people make up their mind about us in the first 30 seconds. So, I?d like to share some feedback on how you greet people when you first meet them. Would that be ok??

If your reason for giving feedback is to help your staff succeed they?ll be more open to receiving it and making a change. If your reason for giving feedback, however, is purely business motivated then the likelihood of change will reduce.

Now, let?s talk about that discomfort and weirdness that comes with giving feedback. The solution is simple?do it often! When you?re giving feedback on a regular basis these conversations won?t be a big deal, they?ll just become part of your day-to-day.

Adobe has a great approach to this with their ?informal check-in?s?. They got rid of their formal performance appraisals and replaced them with regular ?check-in?s?, which, in this HBR article say, are centred around ?three elements of discussion: expectations, feedback, and growth and development. When each of these areas have been discussed, then managers and subordinates know they?ve had a meaningful conversation.? You might not go to this extent but their approach has merit and incorporates regular feedback into their conversations.

Finally, be prepared to receive feedback too. For a team to operate effectively there must be an equal amount of give and take. So, if you?re not willing to hear how you might be part of the problem then you?re probably not ready to be giving feedback!

?Courage is what is takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.?
~ Winston Churchill

Need help? Get in touch.

Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on creating dynamic team environments through adaptable leadership. She is a leadership coach, trainer, facilitator, mentor and speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with.

If you?d like to know more about how she can work with you, and your team, drop her an email

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