Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Monday, 8 August 2011

Has it landed? Feedback that is...

I was working with Peter this week, a senior manager in a large global corporate on how he was going to deliver some particularly tricky feedback to a subordinate. He'd procrastinated about it for awhile then had a shot at delivering his message but to zero effect. His next attempt faired no better and now there was a bit of an atmosphere developing between the two of them.

Peter hadn't gone to the trouble of figuring out how to land his feedback - ie.  get the recipient to absorb, understand and accept the message.  Most of us respond badly to negative messages and resist the messenger .. irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. Delivering feedback is therefore only part of the battle, we also have to help people 'swallow' it if we expect them to do anything with it. Here's what helps:
  1. Tell it straight but don't make them wrong - clearly and upfront tell them what the issue is but quickly move to solving the problem with them not burying them in manure
  2. Explain why its a problem for them -link it to what they care about - their reputation, their career aspirations etc. 
  3. Back it up with fact and first hand evidence if needs be - but don't ovewelm them with data
  4. Anticipate the gap between intent and impact - most people's intent is positive its just that their impact sometimes isn't
  5. Shut up and ask what their reaction is - get them talking as soon as possible

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