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Dear Anna,
I need to give more feedback to my team, but it’s usually so awful for everyone involved that I’ve started avoiding it. What can I do?

Dear Michael,

Giving feedback is not for the faint-hearted. Most leaders have battle scars from a feedback conversation that went horribly wrong. It can be equally unpleasant for achievement-focused professionals to receive negative feedback, so it’s not surprising these conversations are avoided. What to do? 

Organise your message

Before you jump in, think carefully about what the person did or didn’t do, the situation where the behaviour happened, and why change is needed. This three-part framework is called “situation-behaviour-impact”.  Developed by the Centre for Creative Leadership, it works by helping the person recall the behaviour and understand the benefits of changing. Steer clear of personal accusations that will create emotional reactions.   

Get to the point

Don’t be tempted to sneak a feedback message into a conversation about general business, sport or the weather. Also avoid using the “sandwich technique”, where you start with a positive message, shove the negative feedback in the middle, and end on a positive note. There is no research to support this method, and perfectionists are likely to remember the negative rather than the positive.

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