How to Give Feedback That’s Empowering.

Positive Feedback word and old key on wooden table
Positive Feedback

When I am coaching teams and leaders in particular, one of the most challenging aspects of leadership many encounter is how to provide good feedback to people. The focus from any feedback provided should be to assist an individual to enhance their confidence rather than undermine it.

Confidence is a key element of Mental Toughness.

Mental Toughness is a personality trait that improves your performance and wellbeing. One of the  4Cs of the mental toughness framework is Confidence, which is the self-belief to successfully tackle the challenges and opportunities presented to us. The more positive and confident you are, the more likely a successful outcome can be achieved.

So how do we enhance an individual’s confidence when providing feedback?

Leaders will often approach their staff, and ask… “Do you mind if I give you some feedback?” However, what is the first thing a staff member usually thinks when asked this question? Most will associate this with “What have I done wrong?”

Unfortunately this old style of feedback often shuts open discussion down. Effective feedback on the other hand opens up conversations, provides insights that people are willing to listen to, allows a person to problem solve options and solutions to take responsibility, and increases their confidence as it focuses on their strengths.

Focus on Strengths

According to a Corporate Leadership Council survey, you can expect a 36.8% increment in performance when you focus on strengths in a performance review and you can expect a 26.4% drop in performance if you focus on a person’s weaknesses.

Consider what the strengths of your staff member are, and ask them to look at opportunities for problem solving using their top strengths.

Out with Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is basically just an oxymoron – these two conditions cannot co-exist. The effect of criticism on us is almost always negative. People do not feel they are being assisted when they are being criticised. Just ban the use of the expression “constructive criticism”!!

Catch people doing the right thing

We are always looking to catch people doing the wrong thing. But our biggest opportunity as leaders is to catch people doing things right. This simple switch to providing continuous positive feedback encourages a happy, motivated culture with a focus on continuous improvement. Be authentic about your positive feedback and give it often… in fact more than you would expect is required or needed as most people are “starved” for feedback.

Your Positive Intention

Be clear about what it is you are actually trying to achieve. Ask yourself…. “What is my positive intention?”

Many feedback conversations start with a leader not being clear about what it is they are actually trying to achieve. Are you always considering how you want to assist the person to move forward and improve their performance and raise their confidence?

For example – Is your intention to stop a person from having a negative impact on others, or can this intention be reframed to consider how you want to assist an individual build strong relationships with peers.

Raise Confidence

When you are clear on your positive intention, you then have an opportunity to explore with an individual the gap between what is happening now and the goal that you want to achieve…. in other words your positive intention.  You can then build accountability and ownership, by asking the person what THEY suggest they could do to move forward toward achieving the positive intention. When a person can own their own decision making, positive outcomes, confidence and accountability grows. Ask, “What do you suggest?”, or “How can we move forward on this?”, or “What might some options be to achieve this?”

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited mental toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their mental toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at http://www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

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