Giving Effective Feedback… Effectively

By Salima Hemani, MBA, PCC. There are three key skills that a leader must demonstrate and master to become an engaged leader:

  1. Provide regular feedback​
  2. Show support for other’s needs​
  3. Address difficult situations and having challenging conversations​

Frankly, all these things together are critical to providing effective feedback. Giving feedback is essential in any leadership role. Feedback can be used to influence the outcomes you seek. Feedback is a form of communication that provides information as well as a strategy for building trust and strengthening relationships by elevating engagement, enhancing performance, increasing motivation, improving employee development, and building trust. 

However, giving feedback effectively is not easy. There are certain conversational blind spots or traps we can fall into:​

  • The assumption that others see what we see, feel what we feel, and think what we think​
  • The failure to realize that fear, trust, and distrust changes how we see and interpret reality, and how we talk about it​
  • The inability to stand in each other’s shoes when we are fearful or upset​
  • The assumption that we remember what others say, when we actually remember what we think about what others say​
  • The assumption that meaning resides in the speaker, when in fact it resides in the listener​

It is important to be cognizant of the fact that we are all vulnerable to these blind spots. Self-awareness of our tendency to do these might make us better at managing them.

The other important skill in becoming an engaged leader, and very closely tied to giving and receiving feedback, is being supportive of the other person’s needs, or meeting them where they are. One of the main reasons giving and receiving feedback is hard is because it can trigger feelings of anxiousness and even threat.

One of my favorite leadership and personal development gurus, Brené Brown, says in her book Dare to Lead that clear is kind, unclear is unkind. What that means is that feeding people half-truths to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind. Not getting clear with a colleague about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind. Think about all the stresses we trigger by doing that? If we try avoiding or are unclear/passive-aggressive about tough feedback, it really goes against the ability to be engaged, building a better relationship with the other person, and helping them grow​.

​We know that when we provide specific and direct feedback, the person receiving that feedback will be more motivated to take actions that improve performance. The Center for Creative Leadership has a simple, powerful, and effective feedback model that enables you to give and receive focused, productive feedback. It is called the SBI model and is composed of 3 key parts:

  • Situation​: Describe the situation in which the behavior occurred; avoid generalities​
  • Behavior: Describe the actual, observable behavior being discussed; facts not opinions or judgments
  • Impact​: Describe the results of the behavior — positive or negative​

Remember giving feedback is a privilege and honor, respect it and treat it with care. And receiving feedback is a gift. Both those acts are critical to your ability to engage more effectively and influence the outcomes you want to achieve.

For other articles by Salima Hemani, read “When the Going Gets Tough, Lean Into Your Values!,” “Managing Up: A Crucial Leadership Skill,” and “Organizational Change Leaders – Want to Increase Your Odds of Success? Get a Coach!” For more about executive presence and developing your leadership skills, schedule a consultation with Salima.