Feedback. It’s possibly the most terrifying word you can use in a business environment. It has actually been proven to raise peoples’ body temperature and blood pressure at the mere mention of the word!

Love it or hate it, feedback is necessary for growth. Without feedback it is impossible to learn and grow as an individual or as an organization. Take learning a new skill, for example.

Any time you are working on mastering a new skill, the best thing you can get when you first try it is feedback. “How did I do? What part was great? What part might need some improvement?”

Unfortunately, many corporate cultures are adverse to feedback. The result is a corporate culture that sticks with the status quo, which stunts the overall growth of the company.

The reason for this dislike of feedback is because most people have not been well trained on how to deliver feedback. What is intended as helpful advice often comes out sounding like “Hey, you suck” or “Wow, you’re fantastic!” These comments don’t foster greater trust or open communication going forward.

Neither one of those approaches helps the recipient because nowhere in that feedback is there any indication of what behaviors, bad or good, they want to bring attention to.

And so nothing happens, which is interpreted as a problem with the recipient, not the deliverer. Instead, try this method of delivering feedback that both 1) makes it safe to deliver and 2) makes it a little safer to receive:

#1: Ask Permission – Don’t just launch into your feedback. First, ask permission to share your thoughts. “Do you have time for feedback? May I share some feedback with you?” This way you have the person’s full attention before you give the feedback.

#2: Share Your Feelings – Give a one-sentence summary of how you are feeling about the topic. “I am feeling really angry about the meeting we had last week”, or “I am really excited about the upcoming product launch.”

#3: Be Specific – Give a specific example, using accountable language, of a behavior that you witnessed or a communication you heard so the recipient can clearly anchor in what it is that you are speaking about. “I sent out the agenda and did not think it was adhered to as we ran way overtime on your portion” or “When I hear you speak about the product I get a sense of your passion for it, and have seen you telling everyone you can.”

#4: Ask for What You Want – Suggest the change you would like to see. This final step in the feedback process is the most important because this is where you get the results. Make your expectations clear and if possible, offer additional support to ensure the change happens. “I would like you to be prepared and use only the time listed in the agenda, or negotiate with me so you have what you feel is reasonable next time” or “I would love to leverage your passion and have you speak at our event, and internally so have everyone engaged and fully understanding our product”.

(Watch the video for examples of what positive and negative feedback looks like using this simple feedback model.)

Remember; always give feedback on a 3 to 1 ratio. Share 3 positive pieces of feedback for every 1 negative one. Doing this instantly increases the positivity of your organization. It also bolsters peoples’ confidence about the negative feedback and gives them the esteem to make the change.

**IMPORTANT NOTE! If you have feedback to give, do it as a stand-alone communication. DO NOT try to deliver your positives before and after the negative or constructive feedback. The ‘oreo cookie’ approach decreases safety and trust, while watering down the impact of both the positive and negative comments.

When you, your teams and your business culture learns to embrace and effectively deliver positive and negative feedback, communications become more meaningful, change happens quicker, and the possibilities for collaboration and adaptation are much higher.

Need help building a culture effective feedback and communication in your organization? Schedule a call to discuss how to use feedback to start a culture shift.

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