3 Tips for Building a Feedback Rich Environment


Does hearing the words, “I’ve got some feedback for you” make you nervous? 

If so, you’re not alone. 

The mere mention of the word makes most people cringe, because we associate feedback with criticism, or we confuse feedback about our performance with commentary on our self-worth. 

I’m certainly no stranger to this. 

But I have learned that we can grow and improve much faster when we engage in a continuous conversation about what we are trying to become, and how we are performing. 

And honestly, it does get easier to hear feedback when you engage in it regularly. 

So- here are 3 tips for building a feedback-rich learning environment. 

1) Establish clear standards for what you will be measuring. 

Don’t just give feedback willy-nilly… or just when something annoys you. Think in advance about what you want to measure, and give feedback about those standards. 

For example, when I am teaching a new class, I ask my participants for very specific kinds of feedback. I don’t ask them, for feedback on my outfit, because that isn’t relevant to my teaching. 

I do ask, "does this concept make sense to you? Is it usable? How can I make it easier for you to put it into action back at work?" Because these are a few of the things that I need to measure so that my classes are impactful.

I establish those standards upfront, and then I measure them. 

So, whenever you are starting a project, determine your measures of success. Answer the question, “how will we know if we’ve hit this one out of the ballpark?” 

Typical measures of success are about the quality of outcomes, the timeliness of our efforts, the impact on our customers, and adherence to budget. 

But I also urge you to consider measuring the way the team works together. For example, ask, "did we make good use of our meeting time? Did we engage collaboratively? Did we have some fun? Did we each contribute at our highest level?" These are good standards to measure.  

If you establish clear standards and keep them front and center, you are FAR more likely to reach those standards.

2.) Build a process and a rhythm for feedback.

Once your standards are in place, reflect on them purposefully and predictably. This will reduce the anxiety associated with feedback, and make feedback a part of your routine. 

For example, as you move a project along, hold weekly check-ins where you reflect on the standards. 

You can certainly use this time to review data, like customer feedback, budget projections vs. actuals, and task completion.

But, you can also use this time to discuss your working relationships. I recommend a plus-delta analysis here, where you list a number of things that are going well (plus) and a few ways that we could improve (delta).

You might say, "let’s do a plus /delta on how we are using our meeting time. What’s going well in our meetings? What should we adjust about the way we spend time in meetings?" 

 Or, you could do one about the degree of collaboration by asking, "what’s working for us when it comes to collaboration? And what do we need to adjust to collaborate more effectively?"

When you build these kinds of processes into routines, it turns feedback into simple discussion and it removes the anxiety from the conversation. 

3) Allow people to comment on their own performance. 

When you ask someone, “how do YOU think this is going?” Or, “what did you do really well this week?” Or, “what shifts or changes might you make in order to get better outcomes,” you’ll be surprised at how astute people are when it comes to measuring their own performance. 

Doing these 3 things will get you started on the road toward much more effective teamwork!


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