Give the Gift of You: One-on-one feedback conversations

After all of my years as an Executive Coach, I continue to be surprised that some leaders withhold the gift of feedback, or at least put it off until it’s too late. Feedback, in the form of one-on-one conversations, builds relationships and improves performance—and it is the key to Resonant Relationships. So why the resistance?

“Resonant relationships are vibrant and supportive relationships that foster respect, inclusion and open and honest dialogue,” writes Annie McKee in (McKee, Management: A Focus on Leaders, 2010)

What holds us back from giving sincere feedback? Common excuses that I hear are “I don’t have time to give feedback,” “I’m not sure how to give feedback,” “I’m afraid of how the person will react to the feedback.”

To reduce your potential pool of excuses, I present some “tried and true” tips for giving timely and helpful feedback:

  1. Offer feedback (positive and constructive) as soon as possible to allow the individual to learn and grow from the conversation. Waiting too long or until you have several items to talk about will be overwhelming for the person. A person can only accept couple points of feedback at a time. This means that you must have frequent conversations, with clarity around your intention and what you most want the other person to take from the conversation.
  2. Be honest and sincere in giving the feedback. Be clear of your positive intent to improve performance—remember, chances are, the person to whom you will be speaking is doing their absolute best to meet or exceed your expectations. No one likes to disappoint.
  3. Be open to questions. The feedback loop is a process of sharing information back and forth between sender and receiver—have examples available to point to from recent history that clearly illustrate the behaviors or attitudes you want the receiver to take a look at and work on changing.
  4. Provide support. This can take many forms, including follow-up conversations, articles or books you can point this person to for additional information and insights into the issues you’ve raised, or simply a reminder that it helps to talk these things through with people outside or work for additional insight or simply to connect with loved during times of change.
  5. Model how it looks for you, as a leader, to be open to your own development and feedback from others.

Finally, for you: Please know that the time spent in feedback conversations is certainly time well spent.

If you are on the receiving end of the feedback, remember to graciously receive the feedback. With any luck, you will receive the gift of more and more feedback, positioning you to reach your full potential and model for peers and direct reports what it means to truly bring alive the concepts of “continuous  improvement” and “lifelong learning.”



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One Response to Give the Gift of You: One-on-one feedback conversations

  1. When I was a very young boy, I read a very interesting pamphlet published by the Catholic Truth Society. It dealt with the subject of humility. Prior to reading it, in the culture of the time, ( a long time ago), young boys were to be seen and not heard and it was never encouraged to exhibit pomposity, pride, vanity nor act in a manner that suggested that one was qualitatively better than anyone else. Interestingly, one was never encouraged to believe that one was in anyway “less” than any other either.

    The pamphlet on “Humility”, opened my eyes and my mind. It clearly suggested that it was false humility not to acknowledge the gifts that were bestowed on us; it positively encouraged the use and optimisation of the gifts and it accepted that when praise or appreciation was extended it should be graciously accepted. It should be accepted in the knowledge and understanding that the gifts that enabled us to deserve praise and appreciation were from God. We had not created them ousselves but there was an obligation on each of us to use them to their maximum potential and in the service of others.

    I was a very young person when I read that booklet. I never forgot it. It served to allow me to have a justified confidence in my own ability and in the course of the leadership roles and responsibility that I shared during my life, it inspired me to enable others to find that confidence in themselves and use whatever gifts and talents they possessed to maximum benefit to themselves and others.

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