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How to Expedite Feedback to Employees (while you take out the stress)

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

If you think of feedback as a dreaded time sink, you can relax a bit. Not only is the everyday feedback approach much faster than the seat-of-the pants plan you are probably using, it reduces trauma and will minimize procrastination and shorten your prep time.

Honesty is the secret sauce for faster feedback. Yes, honesty, even though you think honesty would create more stress than silence. When people are naturally honest with one another and get used to swapping feedback about how to do something better, you will cut out a lot of wasted time.

Sports teams For example, players on sports teams about to win a championship have no problem telling one another how to make a play better. An NFL player going to the playoffs is used to hearing honest feedback all the time from teammates who have an equal share in winning.

Dancers Likewise, in professional dance, the honest feedback that dancers exchange is called “notes.” After a rehearsal, everyone in the dance troupe is asked, “What are your notes for this piece?” Go faster, more lighting, start farther from the left, and so on—honest comments tossed out with the full understanding that they’re for the good of all. Interestingly, what went well—and should be repeated even if it was an accident—is just as important to call out as what didn’t go well. A delay of a split second, a slightly exaggerated movement, and a facial expression can add up to a great performance.

Honest comments to sports-team and dance-troupe members are quick and part of the norm. The give and take of feedback is fast flowing when two conditions are met: a clear common goal and a feeling of trust. You can heighten both of these conditions by skillfully leading everyday feedback in your group.

Giving candid feedback in 10 minutes I have timed people giving feedback to one another in top-level management teams. When everyone knows why they need to collaborate and there’s a climate of trust, the team can brainstorm more than thirty candid feedback comments to each person—a mixture of positives and improvement items—in ten minutes or less per person.

Honesty and trust: A great combination Of course, when there’s little trust between you and the other person, feedback is very hard to speed up and it won’t be received well. What’s fantastic is that honesty can speed up trust as the team member more clearly recognizes that you are focusing on common goals, not personalities. You are genuinely offering them help and can end your quick feedback conversation with light-heartedness and excitement about your new plans for the future.

“A concise and effective tool… It provides context, inspiration, and great actionable content.”

— Mark Holzbach, Creative and Tech Community Connector, Co-Founder, Zebra Imaging

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