Point Your Feedback Forward and Folks Will Really Get It
Updated: Nov 6
No one likes hearing that they screwed up. But everyone wants to hear how they can be super successful in the future. The trick to great feedback is to link the improvements you are asking for to how they can get accolades in the future.
“Hey, at the next meeting it will be great if you have a written agenda ready and enforce schedule pretty tightly” is a great way to start a feedback conversation.”
Why? Because you are giving them a chance to envision their future success, rather than feeling they are only being reprimanded for past failures.
You can even mention the past–to share examples of what didn’t work and why–IF you first refer to a time they’ll have a chance to do it right: “Hey, next time you issue that financial report, can you break out the expenses into categories that match the other company’s? The report you just sent out was very general and individuals couldn’t see how to improve their individual areas.”
Carrying this idea a little further, it’s sometimes OK to delay the feedback until just before the person is going to repeat a task. For example, there may be an employee on your team who led a project last week but won’t be leading another one for two months. You can wait until a couple of weeks before the new project is to start and frame the feedback about the past into how the person can be 100% successful in the future: “Terry, as you kick off this project, it would be great if you set up an accountability system. Last time people got sloppy on their deadlines and it led to the extra costs you were concerned about.”
Focusing on the future will not only improve that person’s morale, but it’s far more likely that the improvements you want will actually take place and that you will see better business results.