Episode 138: Giving Feedback

The Art of Giving Feedback

Imagine how chaotic and confusing it would be if sports teams didn’t have coaches to give guidance and feedback.

The team’s potential for improvement would be severely limited and the players would all be doing their own thing. 

Just like in sports, your team members need guidance and feedback to improve and as uncomfortable as it may be, it’s your responsibility to give it to them.


That’s why, I’m sharing the most important aspects of giving feedback in my latest podcast episode. You’ll learn:

  • The framework I use to give effective feedback
  • The importance of understanding the root cause
  • Coaching vs Correction
  • Commitment and Support

Recently, I was watching my son Graham play basketball. His team was giving it their all on the court. The game was intense. Players were making split-second decisions and executing all of the plays that the coach had taught them with precision. But I want you to imagine that they were left to do all of the playing on their own without a coach. Or what if the coach was there but remained silent throughout the entire match? No guidance, no feedback, just players left to figure it out on their own. It would be chaotic, confusing, and the team's potential for improvement would be severely limited. Thankfully, his coach understands the importance of continuous feedback, taking timeouts, debriefing immediately after the game, following up in the next practice with specific points for improvement.

Now today I want to talk about this in context of business because I want to dive into the reasons why feedback is essential for you as a leader to give in order to see your team grow and succeed. So just like for my son playing basketball, receiving feedback is so incredibly important. And as a business owner, it's important that you give that feedback. Now a lot of the clients that I work with wonder, how do I give that feedback? Even if you know that you need to give the feedback, it's uncomfortable, it's something that you often avoid or you delay until later. And I wanna give you a framework to give effective feedback, okay? So here's how you're gonna give that feedback. I'm gonna give you 3 buckets to focus on. And the middle bucket, there's a little bit of a choice depending on which direction you need to go in. And I'm going to explain that.

But if you can just remember these 3 buckets, then you will be giving much better feedback to your team. And hopefully it's going to break down any barriers or hesitations that you have because you have this framework and you can give the feedback more continuously, more in the moment versus waiting. Okay. So the first bucket is context. To provide effective feedback, you're gonna start by setting the context. You wanna share the circumstance, which is what happened. It's the facts. It's exactly what everyone would agree on.

It's not your opinion. So you're going to begin by clearly stating the circumstances or events that unfolded using a very specific situation. You're going to stick to those facts. You're going to avoid those personal opinions or any assumptions. And then you're going to share the concern. You're going to go over the impact that that circumstance has on business, on the team, other team members, on your clients, whatever it might be. This establishes a shared understanding of what transpired and why it matters. Okay, so everyone's on the same page.

You understand what happened versus what should have happened and what that impact is. So that's context. The second bucket is coaching or correction. It's 1 or the other, okay? Once the context is established, it's time to determine whether you need coaching or you need correction. When do you need which 1? Okay, the framework of what you're going to talk about is going to be the same. It's just the how you go about it, how you approach it that's going to be different. Coaching is when you're going to be asking questions. You're going to be asking open-ended questions, guiding team members to reflect on their actions and decisions.

This is used in lower risk situations where there's room to discuss, room to try again, There's room to probably fail again or not do things exactly right again. So lower risk. And then when you really want to ensure that long-term comprehension is attained, okay? If you want someone to understand what is needed, Coaching is going to help them understand better because they're coming to certain realizations on their own. You're guiding them towards that. But when they piece it together and realize something on their own without you just telling them, they understand, they believe it more, they internalize it more. Okay, so that's coaching. The correction approach on the other hand is when you're telling someone, you're providing direct feedback, you're telling them what exactly needs to change and why. This is used when there's more of an urgent change needed.

This is reserved for urgent situations that require immediate improvement, or there's higher risk, which is when you have to prevent negative consequences. There is no margin for error. Or when you've already coached multiple times and now you're truly correcting. You're like, okay, we've had this conversation. We've gotten on the same page multiple times through coaching and I'm not seeing the shift that needs to happen. So now I need to correct and be more direct. Okay. So coaching or correction, either 1, you're going to cover 3 main points just with those different approaches.

Okay. First is the cause. You want to help them understand the root cause. What is going on and why is it happening? Why is the circumstance that is undesired happening? You want to, if you're coaching, ask them, ask questions to help them come to an understanding. If it's a correction, you want to more clearly tell them what's wrong and why. Okay, then you want to talk about a consequence. What will happen if this continues? If you're coaching, again, you want to ask them. You want to guide them towards talking about and understanding what the downside is if they continue versus with correction you might need to get more specific and tell them a consequence specifically for them if this behavior continues or if this whatever it is continues okay.

And then the third thing is change. What needs to change? Coaching again you're gonna ask questions, guide them towards coming up with other possibilities, other solutions, other strategies to get the desired result versus with correction, you're telling them what change is expected. And again, there's that consequence of, and if this doesn't happen, then XYZ happens. Okay. So coaching or correction, but either way, you're gonna make sure that you cover the cause, the consequence, and the change needed. Okay, so you've got context, you've got coaching or correction, and then we need commitment. Commitment is all about Confidence and concrete next steps. Confidence is all about showing support and belief in your team.

Regardless of whether you just coached or you just corrected, next is crucial to express confidence in your team members. You want to show your support and belief in their abilities to overcome the challenges and to improve. You want them to see that you believe it's possible and that you're there to support them. You wanna reinforce the idea that feedback is not meant to criticize or belittle, but to help them grow and excel. So you're not just here giving them feedback, you're here because you believe that improvement is possible. You believe that they can grow. You believe that they can succeed. Okay, so show, demonstrate that confidence either way.

And then wrap up with clear next steps, concrete next steps. Provide concrete next steps for improvement. Clearly outline and agree on the specific actions or behaviors that need to change, offering guidance and support along the way. This is going to empower your team members with a roadmap for success. So this is commitment. You're showing your commitment in them, your confidence in them, and you're also getting aligned with concrete next steps that you're both committed to as the next steps to see improvement. Constructive feedback is absolutely necessary. It's a part of leadership that can't be ignored because when it is ignored, then you're not effectively leading.

Just like a coach who calls a timeout during the game to provide guidance, Feedback allows you to steer your team towards success. And by offering feedback in a timely and thoughtful manner, you're going to create an environment that fosters growth, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Remember, feedback is not about finding fault, but about helping your team members reach their full potential. Feedback is about helping them grow. Feedback is the right thing to do, the good thing to do, because it's helping them get better. Your team needs that feedback. And as a leader, it's crucial to recognize the value of that feedback in unlocking your team's potential. So embrace the role of a coach, provide guidance, share insights that are going to help your team members improve by establishing that context, choosing between either coaching or correction, And then demonstrating commitment to their growth, you're going to create a culture of feedback that drives success.

So when faced with a situation where your team could benefit from feedback, do not hesitate. Call that timeout. Seize the opportunity to guide them towards improvement.

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