by Kathy Cooperman
A core leadership competency is to provide constructive feedback to employees. When given well, feedback helps the receiver know what they’re doing right and what could be improved.
Giving feedback is not always comfortable. Many leaders resist giving feedback until it’s time for annual performance reviews. Few leaders give adequate feedback. I’ve heard from countless employees that they rarely hear positive feedback. One common example is from a worker when I asked, “How often do you hear positive feedback about your performance?” He laughed and said, “Are you kidding? I never hear anything until I do something wrong and then I hear about it like that!” (Snapping his fingers)
Purpose of Feedback
The purpose is simply to improve performance. When employees believe that you have their best interests at heart, they will welcome feedback.
1. Why am I giving feedback?
If your intent is to be helpful, then you’re on the right track. If you take pride in helping your team members grow and develop then it will be a natural step to provide timely, specific feedback.
If, however, you are quick to provide feedback when frustrated, stop and consider other alternatives for relieving your stress.
2. Have I prepared my thoughts?
Taking a few minutes to collect your thoughts will make the experience better for you and your employee. One of the best models for giving feedback is called the SBI* model for feedback (developed by the Center for Creative Leadership).
S = Situation
B = Behavior
I = Impact
Let’s say one of your employees has been a reliable and steady performer for the past two years. You’ve noticed lately that she has come in late at least four different days in the past two weeks. At first you ignored it thinking it was a rare exception. Now, though, you’re concerned that this behavior is becoming a habit. You’re concerned that not only is she slacking off but it’s beginning to impact her co-workers who have to cover for her when she’s late.
Applying the SBI model, you might say:
Gina, I’ve noticed you’ve arrived late a number of times in the past couple of weeks (Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and Thursday and Friday the week before). I noticed some of your co-workers taking calls that came in for you, creating a backlog in incoming calls in the department.
The leader then pauses and allows Gina to respond. This avoids jumping to conclusions about why Gina is late or assumptions about her motivation. She might, of course, have a valid reason for her lateness.
Situation: In the past couple of weeks (Tuesday and Wednesday . . . )
Behavior: You’ve arrived late a number of times
Impact: Co-workers taking calls that came in for you, creating a backlog . . .
This simple model can be applied to situations where you’re offering positive feedback or constructive feedback—to shape behavior to meet expectations.
To make it work best, be sure it’s timely and specific.
*SBI are trademarks of the Center for Creative Leadership.
For more information contact Kathy Cooperman, KC Leadership Consulting, LLC, email@example.com, 1 (866) 303-1996 or (303) 522-2114.