You can be a Feedback Expert
1. Be realistic
The common approach leaders take towards talent development is to give too much feedback. Their desire to give is larger than the learner's ability to accomplish.
Here's an example:
Sam is observing a new seminar facilitator, Jason. Sam notices he could use more vocal variety, more eye contact with the audience, less awkward body movement, less vocal fillers, and the presence of that really difficult "secret-sauce" skill that takes years to perfect.
After the seminar, Sam tells Jason everything he needs to work on. Sam even explains the secret sauce skill and asks Jason to start working on it now.
At the end of the conversation, Sam walks away feeling accomplished. However, Jason walks away feeling overwhelmed and totally unsure of himself. He feels that his seminar was a disaster and is afraid for the next one.
Based on this exchange, Jason is less likely to perform as well for his next seminar. He has too many things to work on, and he has no idea how to apply the complex "secret sauce" skill. Bottomline, he isn't ready for that much application.
Even though it goes against the grain, it's more effective to "ask less, not more."
Here's what Sam could have done.
After the seminar, Sam gives Jason only one skill to work on. Once Jason masters that skill, Sam gives Jason the next and so on. Eventually, Jason will master all basic presentational skills and will be ready to work on the "secret-sauce" skill.
At Bitesize, we have seen "asking less" succeed time and again. People grow rapidly when they are capable of applying the feedback they are given.
2. Be specific
Many leaders feel uncomfortable giving feedback. They are afraid to injure or create hostility in others. So, these leaders often choose one of the worst feedback strategies. They become vague so they don't sound cutting. Unfortunately, this strategy is also VERY ineffective.
Imagine how Jason would react if Sam said the following:
"Jason, make sure you iron out your presentation before the next seminar."
Jason might have no idea what he needs to iron out. He may feel like he was perfect, and that Sam just want to pick on him. Or, since the feedback is vague, he may not make any change.
Instead, it's more effective to give specific feedback.
"Jason, I noticed that you pace back and forth as you present. For your next presentation, stay in one spot. Only move to another spot when you need to make a point."
Now Jason knows exactly what he needs to do. Sam has removed all doubt. This is the strength behind tip #2.
3. Be kind
Even specific and realistic feedback can leave employees feeling hurt and undervalued. This is why leaders should follow up their feedback with kindness.
Here's an example of what Sam could say to Jason:
"I know that receiving feedback can be hard. The reason I give you feedback is because I see you becoming an incredible presenter. You have a natural fire when you speak. People want to listen. I'm here to help you harness that fire."
After saying this, Jason is more likely to leave feeling valued. He'll know that Sam's feedback is intended to build him rather than demean him. He'll be more likely to apply the feedback and grow from the experience.
Kindness is a powerful tool. Through it, leaders can maintain positive relationships and still give necessary feedback.
How to Develop Talent Step-by-Step
Sometimes, leaders expect team members to progress in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, that's not how learning works. People learn one step at a time.
We practice a step-by-step approach at Bitesize. To learn more about this master approach to talent development, visit www.teambitesize.com.