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5 Minutes of Feedback Now Can Save 5 Hours (or 5 Days) Later

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Sometimes I want to shout from the rooftops about just how powerful feedback can be in saving time, costs, and headaches. Whenever people in your group have made mistakes or wasted resources, I will wager you that timely feedback could have prevented it or reduced the damage. And most of the time, 5 minutes would have been enough.

5 minutes that matter:

  1. A short check-in conversation with a team member to clarify priorities can prevent panic over a “surprise” deadline

  2. A comment now rather than later about a problem you see may save them from having to completely redo their project

  3. Feedback that teaches people and enables you to delegate more stuff to more people who know what they are doing

  4. More feedback more often so that people get a clear message about what you consider important are more likely to focus on it too!

  5. Helping someone correct a mistake now so that they see you and developing them to do work they are super proud of

  6. Telling someone that what they’re doing adds value to the business and attracts more of the good stuff to you and the team

It pays off when you make a lifestyle of giving helpful feedback early and often. Many software developers I know check in early on with team members who are doing new projects in order to prevent them from straying into unproductive territory that frustrates everyone. Many use an “agile” development approach that has every single team member checking in via daily “scrum” meetings and exchanging feedback as needed to get things flowing well.

Highest leverage feedback Where 5 minutes of feedback counts the most is when you convince yourself to go ahead and offer the feedback you’ve been mulling over today, instead of avoiding it because it might upset the other person. Think about it. How upset will the same person be in a week when the issue is bigger and messier? How upset will the team be when they realize they’ve been wasting time and have to race toward a deadline?

Some 5-minute feedback methods 1. Priority feedback: Ask a key question like “What is your top priority on this work?.” If you don’t agree, explain your view and the business impact, and suggest how to re-direct.

2. Empathy feedback: Empathize with frustrations your employees are expressing and suggest new solutions that can lower their stress.

3. Barrier-busting feedback: Ask how it’s going and what are the hardest parts of it. Share your understanding of the goal and ask them to help you brainstorm ways to move through the tough parts.

4. Project schedule feedback: Clarify the schedule for completing the assignment and assist them to communicate about any delays with others also working on the project.

5. Observational feedback: Share your observations honestly re: what you are seeing & how it affects business goals, then help them come up with a plan for stopping, increasing, or changing what is going on

Doesn’t sound like 5 minutes? Try it out. Believe me 5 minutes will be a great start and you will be startled to realize that you can say these things in even less than 5 minutes–once you’re in the swing of it and your team members expect it from you. It will be the best investment of 5 minutes you have ever made.

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