In all kinds of situations we may need to give feedback to someone about something they have said or done. This may be an employee, a work colleague, a business partner. But it may equally well be a close friend or relative. In my view the same principles hold good and they certainly work for maintaining a positive approach in change teams
McGill and Beatty (in “Action learning: A practitioner’s guide”, London: Kogan Page, 1994, p. 159-163) provide useful suggestions about giving effective feedback:
1. Clarity — be clear about what you want to say. Think before you speak!
2. Emphasize the positive — this doesn’t mean you are endorsing the present behaviour!
3. Be specific — avoid general comments and clarify pronouns such as “it,” “that,” etc – be as clear and simple as you can!
4. Focus on behaviour or the words spoken or written rather than the person.
5. Refer to behaviour/approaches that can be changed.
6. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Try to stay in the neutral ground emotionally!
7. Own the feedback — Use ‘I’ statements. This is your view!
8. Generalizations – be wary of word like “all,” “never,” “always,” etc., be more specific — often these words are arbitrary limits on behaviour.
9. Be very careful with advice! People rarely struggle with an issue because of the lack of some specific piece of information; often, the best help is helping the person to come to a better understanding of their issue, how it developed, and how they can identify actions to address the issue more effectively.
I would add one further piece of advise – always put yourself in the other person’s shoes! Think how you would feel receiving the same information! No room here for humiliation!