Inspire with suggestions: concentrate on the four Fs of suggestions (and the longer term)

Exchanging feedback with colleagues is an important part of a successful collaboration. However, many people I speak to feel they could do better at providing feedback, whether by responding faster or more directly, or simply by making sure a conversation takes place. Giving feedback can feel awkward, maybe even more so when it has to be delivered virtually.

Personal complaints aside, the truth is that most of us could be far more effective at work if we regularly report on what we are doing well and what could be better. Timely, frequent, and specific feedback helps everyone improve. We can better spot blind spots, know what to do and when to change course, and benefit from building relationships with those who give us their advice.

So how can we provide feedback that leads to results?

Research shows that the conversation needs to focus on the future in order for people to be motivated by feedback.

Recent studies published in the Journal of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) found that willingness to change is greater when a feedback discussion focuses on future behavior rather than what happened in the past. In contrast, feedback conversations that focused on explaining past performance turned minor disagreements into large ones. "The most important factor in motivating people to improve was how much the feedback discussion focused on generating new ideas for future success," explains co-author of the study, Jackie Gnepp.

These results confirm what we see in other aspects of leadership and change management. When people are involved in creating the way forward, they are more likely to be engaged and embracing changes to accomplish a collective goal. Sharing feedback is a face-to-face conversation. So why not use the time and dialogue to identify actionable and positive opportunities for improvement?

The four Fs of feedback

When you're ready to talk, follow this best practice: "The four Fs of feedback" People listen and act on your suggestions:

1. FRAMEWORK: Ask for permission. Then share your motivation and intention

First, ask if this is a good time for you to share feedback: “I have feedback that I think will help you. Are you open to it now? "If not, make an appointment. This ensures that your co-worker or colleague is in the right mood for a productive conversation. If someone is having a bad day or is not feeling open-minded, it's better to take this important conversation to someone else Postponing the day rather than storming forward and reducing the likelihood of the conversation becoming a win-win situation.

Then set up the discussion with your motivation and intention to share feedback. State your motivation in a way that will benefit the listener. In this way, the listener can see why you are passing this information on and not reading it into your actions with a meaning of its own. Reinforce that the purpose of the feedback is to be helpful and share the lessons learned that can be applied in the future. In other words, you explicitly tell them why you are sharing this feedback and tell them directly why they should be open to the feedback (because it benefits them!).

The goal is collaboration, not accusation. When employees are feeling defensive, they are less likely to respond and respond to the comments. An effective approach might sound like this: "I need to share some feedback with you so that you can work with me even more effectively. My intention is (use these exact words) for you to find this helpful and for us to work together more effectively. If so it would be me if I wanted to receive this feedback. "

2. FEEDBACK FOR THE FUTURE: One behavior then one consequence.

Then discuss a specific and observable behavior, and then the consequence. If there are a number of things that you want to exercise, choose the most important first. One behavior at a time prepares everyone for the greatest chance of success. Example: "This behavior had this negative consequence (explain)" or "If you do this (behavior), this is the (negative) result." Feedback should never be personal – avoid emotionally charged language or judgments and just give the facts as they are.

Think of it this way – it's almost like having a video camera and showing the person a brief snippet of their behavior and consequences.

3. FEELINGS: "How do you feel about what I just said?"

Now, cultivate two-way conversation by asking for an answer in specific ways. This shows that you really care about the person's point of view, and not just focus on delivering a corrective message. In this phase you want to open up the possibility for a feeling and thinking reaction. You may not understand, but if you ask, "What do you think?" Chances are you'll only get a thinking answer. An emotional response is a much broader answer for the listener and often conveys more information that is helpful for everyone involved. The way to do this is to ask directly, "What do you think of what I just said?" Then stop talking and listen.

Actively listen and repeat what you hear to show that you understand their point of view and are interested in a context that you may not know. Let them react non-stop, and clarify or reinforce them as needed.

If there is defensiveness, especially after setting it up by sharing your motivation and intention, go right ahead to discuss the alternative behavior you would like to see in the future. Don't get into debate here: you shared the behavior and consequences in a way that they could hear, and now you need to ask what you would like to see in the future instead. Now is not the time for excuses or reasons. Rather, it is time to take individual responsibility for your own actions. The alternative behavior you are discussing is not up for discussion. It might sound like this: "What I want to see in the future instead is (alternative behavior)."

4. FOLLOW UP: How can I help you here?

Finally, discuss the next steps, including what you can do to help. Be direct and ask, "How can I help you with this in the future?" This is another way of showing you care.

Also take the opportunity to point out that feedback has become an important part of your leadership style and that you are promoting an environment where it occurs frequently. Make sure your reps understand that feedback is a one-way street and that you expect them to be comfortable sharing their thoughts and other ideas with you in a spirit of continuous improvement. This, of course, means that you need to be open to their contributions and take appropriate action to demonstrate the same behavior when receiving feedback that you expect from your co-workers when you are giving it. You can even take the time to share this model with them.

Timely and direct feedback is critical to success. Add a little humanity and caring and you have a recipe for encouraging future improvement and building valuable, trusting relationships.

Who do you currently owe development feedback to and when will you share it?

– David Grossman

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