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Give a Bigger Gift! Spread the Feedback Habit Across Your Team & Beyond  

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

So you’ve gotten used to giving frequent feedback. And you may love the positive effects of those honest conversations. You may also have a lot of appreciation for the gift of feedback from others. Some of the suggestions they gave you were right on target, and you feel lucky the feedback givers were willing to talk to you honestly.

So what’s next? 

Of course, you can get better and better at feedback—and this will happen naturally as you do it more and worry less about how the feedback receivers will take it. It gets easier the more you see feedback as helpful to all involved–you, the other person, the team, and the whole company. Performance, skills, and confidence are all increased!

So you’ve given the gift of feedback. But now you have the opportunity to give an even bigger gift–teaching others to spread the wealth to be gained from feedback! How can you get this going in your work setting?

Make sure people are familiar with the value of feedback personally

If you’ve established trust with your co-workers—as a helpful feedback giver and receiver, they will be ready to follow you further along the road. This is true whether you are a a boss or an informal leader taking the initiative to make things better

Start feedback at the end of every team meeting

This is a great way to model the effectiveness of feedback. Introduce at the end of one meeting the idea of  asking for everyone’s feedback at the end of all of your regular meetings. You can easily facilitate this (after giving a heads-up to the boss of that meeting). On a white board, brainstorm together:

  1. What went well

  2. What needs improvement (for the whole team, not targeted at individuals). Examples: “We started 20 minutes late”, or “Most people didn’t speak” or “A lot of rabbit trails.”

  3. Suggestions for improvement

Implement this 5-10 minutes before your next meeting and get agreement on action steps. Review them in the next meeting.

Ask people for feedback to you on a regular basis–like after weekly meetings or project reviews

Pick out 1-3 people you worked with closely and go around asking them about how you can be more effective. If they don’t have any input, prime the pump by suggesting an improvement you think you should make. Although they may seem surprised at first, it is very likely they will ask you for feedback as well, or at least they will be getting more comfortable with the idea of feedback. Be sure to show appreciation for their feedback and try to state a plan for how you can apply their feedback. If you are the boss, make sure to include everyone on your rounds, and openly state that you would like to exchange feedback.

Suggest more open feedback on conflicting ideas to address important issues

Start talking about the need for feedback and suggest that the team incorporate more open discussions before making decisions where people disagree. Emphasize the need for each person to explain why they think the way they do. This is feedback about ideas, not about individual behavior and can be safely shared in a team meetings. Remind people of some ground rules, like not interrupting, showing respect, using inquiry skills to gain understanding, and encouraging all to speak.

If you lead a feedback “culture” in your group, you are giving a wonderful gift!

No matter how limited you feel, there are small feedback practices you can share, endorse, and role model for your group. In a short time, you will know for sure how beneficial this can be for all and you will be surprised how much your co-workers will appreciate it!

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