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September 2010


Giving Effective Feedback To Improve Teamwork

If you want a strong team, then you need open, honest, face-to-face communication, including accurate feedback.  In order to be successful, and to make the most effective contribution to the team, each team member needs:

  • The good news.
  • The bad news.
  • All the news.

Want to improve your ability to give feedback?  Start with these strategies.

Key Strategies

1. Why Don't We Give Positive Feedback?

  • It might sound insincere.
  • They might get embarrassed.
  • They might ask for a raise.
  • They might start to slack off.
  • It is their job to do well.
  • People know when they are doing well; I should not have to tell them.
  • It is more important to tell them what is wrong so they can improve.  

These answers are all true, and they are all stupid.  They are not machines; they are people.  We must tell them that we appreciate their efforts.  The negative outcomes are worse if you do not reinforce the positive outcomes.

2. Criticism vs. Constructive Feedback

Criticism is judgmental: "this is what you did wrong."  Criticism focuses on the past, has a personal focus, has a negative tone, and is problem oriented.

Constructive feedback helps to build the person up: "this is how you can do better next time."  Constructive feedback focuses on the future, centers on the actual behavior, sets a positive tone, and seeks a solution.

Get smart: use constructive feedback.

3. Use The  "I” Message

The most powerful human relations tool I have ever used.  Phrase your feedback like this:

When you ____________________________
                              (state the behavior)

I feel ________________________________
          (tell them how the behavior affects you)

I would prefer ________________________
                         (describe the desired behavior)

  • Use it to tell others when they have done a good job.  "When you put in extra time on this project, I feel like you are really committed to the team effort, I would prefer that you keep up the good work."
  • Use it to ask how your behavior impacts others.  "When I give you positive feedback in this way, how does it make you feel?  Is there another method of feedback you would prefer?"
  • Use it to suggest a more effective behavior on the part of others.  "When you arrive late without calling, I feel like you are not committed, I would prefer that you call if you will be late."



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