Further tips on giving effective feedback:
• Give specific information – factual, observable, quantifiable.
• Give facts and data to emphasize objectivity; do not give your opinion. Your opinion is not feedback.
• Talk about what you have seen, heard or felt; not hearsay.
• Direct the recipient’s attention to behavior he/she can control (as opposed to, for example, telling him it is his gender, age or ethnicity that is the problem [obviously this is problematic for other reasons from an employment law standpoint]; as opposed also, to telling him something he did in the distant past, that he cannot change is getting in the way of his success).
• Address any specific action in need of change as close to the occurrence as possible. I.e., don’t tell people about their failings months after the event.
• Address any specific action that worked well, as close to the occurrence as possible. I.e., don’t tell people about something they did that you really liked months after the event.
• Focus on the actual actions and observed results rather than delving into why something occurred. Feedback does not involve analysis or stories; it is not about excuses – just a reporting of what is. There may be a need to examine the story later, but you miss the focus on the feedback when you get derailed with the stories and explanations. (Ex., “you were late 3 times this week” vs. “I think you are late a lot because you have poor time management.” While the latter may be true and may even be a useful opinion, it is not really feedback.)
• Distinguish facts from characterizations (ex: “you were late 3 times this week” vs. “you are unreliable”).
• When you feel something worked well, lay it out specifically, rather than saying things like, “good job.” “Good job” and “bad job” are not feedback. Feedback is, “I can see that after being late for 3 days in a row, you have started to be on time again. I know that has been a challenge for you and I can see your commitment.”
Practice, practice, practice; and let us know how it goes.