A better feedback model

This is just a quick plug for a tool that I have found to be super effective.   Special thanks to Manager Tools (www.manager-tools.com) for the podcast and indirect coaching.  I highly recommend that you listen to their “Manager Tools Basics” series (even though it can be kind of rambly at points).

Typically, when giving feedback to someone, you give them the shit sandwich – “this was good, that was bad, the other thing was good; overall, keep up the good work but don’t forget about the thing that was bad.”  This model is a bad model, and should be very ashamed of itself.  It’s a bad model because it lets both good and bad behavior sit unattended until feedback review time.

The better way is to be proactive; however being proactive when using the above model can be hard to implement.  How do you walk up to someone and tell them that something that they did was good and/or bad without it happening in a formal review setting?

Hey feedback model, I have some feedback for you. When you wait too long to give someone feedback, they don’t remember the circumstance or why they did it. Could you do that differently next time?”

That’s it – that’s the feedback model.  No value judgments, no shit sandwich, just the action and the outcome.  And it works for positive feedback too:

“Hey feedback model, I have some feedback for you.  The way you gave me feedback just there made it really easy to understand what went wrong. Keep it up!”

Simple, easy, effective.  Go listen to the podcasts, tell your team that you are going to try this feedback model (or don’t and see what happens, either way), and start giving better feedback.


About Jason H Zalmanowitz
I am a nerdy Management Consultant / Project Manager with a MBA, have spent the majority of my career working for consulting firms in Calgary, and I race in triathlons because of (and thanks to) my wife. As a Project Manager, I have managed field implementations, strategy development projects, software development projects, and hardware implementation projects. As a consultant, I have helped companies articulate how and why they are going to implement and interact with sustaining technology to support their business.

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