Giving Feedback: How To Give Developmental Feedback in 30 Seconds or Less

Giving feedback is an important task and characteristic of effective managers. Feedback helps others to gauge how well they are doing. However, most managers believe feedback should involve a long process when in reality, managers can give good feedback in 30 seconds or less.

In an earlier post about the Characteristics of Effective Management, I highlighted nurturing talent as one of the key factors that make good managers, exceptional. A vital element of this process involves giving developmental feedback.

1. Good Feedback is not Praise
Giving feedback is not about praising others. Phrases such as “good job” or “great presentation” are quick ways in which we can show our “approval” for what others have done. But, it is not feedback. You are praising others for what you believe was an example a “good presentation”. In reality, they will have no idea what it was they did to deserve such praise.

2. Feedback and not Performance Review
Feedback is different from performance reviews. When you conduct a review, you evaluate a persons performance against a core set of outcomes they were expected to achieve. Feedback on the other hand is developmental. When you give feedback you want to help others understand what behaviours worked and which ones does not.

3. Feedback in 30 seconds or less.There is a very simple formula for giving feedback in 30 seconds or less. By using the formula, you can become quite masterful at giving feedback to others. But, it does mean you need to practice. You know what they say, practice makes perfect. And the more you practice, the better you will become at giving great developmental feedback.

Step 1: Start with how you felt
When you want to give a colleague some feedback, start with how you feel or felt. Perhaps you were disappointed (or angry, mad, delighted, elated, surprised) about something they did. Or, perhaps you felt your colleague was “too aggressive” “not a team player”, “too cavalier” or perhaps “over-confident”. Whatever feelings you may have about the actions of another person, jot that down.

Step 2: What made you feel this way
Next, reflect on their actions or behaviors that made you feel this way. What specifically did they do that made you feel this way. Focus on observable actions. Jot this down or make a mental note.

Step 3: Where or when did it happen?
When did they behave in this manner? Where did it occur? Once you are clear about this, make a mental note or jot this down.

You are now ready to formulate your feedback. Simply take the information you came up with above and structure them into the following sentence.

On [insert date or day], when [insert short details of the situation], you [insert the details of a behavior]. I felt [insert how you felt].

Here is an example.

John, on [Tuesday last week, during our meeting with the Sales Director of Extended Widget Company], you [outlined the benefits and risk of our product offering in a calm and logical outline format]. I felt [proud of confident presentation and noticed the Sales Director becoming more relaxed and comfortable with our proposal].

Giving this feedback will take no more than 30 seconds. And, when you do this, your colleagues will know precisely what behaviours will ensure positive feedback. Through practice, you can learn to give good developmental feedback in 30 seconds or less using a very simple formula.

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