Giving constructive or critical feedback can be one of the more challenging tasks a leader faces. It can be tough to say it the right way, and we’re never totally sure how the feedback receiver is going to accept what we’re saying.
Here are three tips you can use the next time you need to have a difficult conversation:
1. Keep it brief. Many leaders take way too much time to give constructive comments. Keep your initial comments brief — no more than 3 sentences of 10 words each. It avoids causing the other person to become defensive and tune you out before you’re finished.
2. Stick to what you observed. Give feedback only on what you directly saw. It will have more credibility than reporting what others told you. Example: “I noticed in the meeting this morning that you rolled your eyes when Janice was talking, and she didn’t say anything else the rest of the meeting.”
3. No personal attacks. Consistent with the point above, stick to what you observed and the impact of that on you or others. Do not psychoanalyze or jump to conclusions about why they did what they did. As soon as you can in the conversations, ask them what their thoughts are and work toward solving the problem you raised. Try this easy method and see if it results in better feedback conversations.
Question: What are your own methods for giving feedback?