Why Most Feedback Doesn’t Work
When people receive feedback, it is often too vague to be actionable. I’ve had executives tell me that they got feedback that they need to “communicate better,” or “find more creative solutions” and so forth, without much else to go on. How can such broad statements provide direction for improvement? These comments are open to a myriad of interpretations, leading many to miss the mark.
The same rings true with positive feedback. Telling someone they did a great job or their work on a presentation was terrific might make them feel good, but it doesn’t identify what exactly they did well. This is especially important if you want to reinforce behaviors (so they can keep doing that).
To increase your effectiveness and the likelihood that people will listen to you, focus on precision. Meaningful feedback is usually behavioral and specific.
Here’s an example:
Weak feedback – You need to be a more effective communicator.
- You should introduce the two main ideas upfront before getting into the details.
- You need to invite others to provide their opinions and avoid cutting people off when they are talking.
- Your emails ought to be more concise by requesting the action first and keeping them to 100-125 words when possible.
- You need to avoid too much jargon when explaining our value to prospects and instead use plain language.
You can see that each of the statements touch on a different aspect of communication. Without clarifying which one(s) the individual needs to work on, how can they take action? It is your responsibility as a leader to provide them with the appropriate level of detailed feedback, and improvement will happen accordingly.