Effective feedback protocol

For those of you who joined us at our ‘Leadership for a Change’ webinar, we promised to post a feedback protocol for your reference.  You’ll find that below.  Before you take a look at it, we’d like you to think of at least one familiar protocol that we all routinely put to good use:  the accepted practice of tipping waitstaff at restaurants.  Waitstaff get feedback all day long and have the opportunity to make adjustments to their approach or service level immediately – to their benefit or detriment.  We all know this protocol, and yet somehow this simple and effective process eludes us in offices around the country.

Similarly, because it’s summer, my thoughts turn to the start of the musical theatre season at our local summer theatre, the Skinner Barn.  I get to sporadically sit in on rehearsals every summer and I often admire the technique of the professional director who comes up from NYC to lead a talented troupe of locals and visiting professional actors.   The rehearsal process sometimes requires the director to stop performers mid-song, mid-action, mid-emotion,  to provide a small correction, a modification, or a bit of stage direction…and just a few weeks later, a beautiful production opens, with (presumably) and to great applause, everyone giving life to the director’s vision.

So now, on to your offices.

1)   No feedback “sandwiches.”   By now, you know that these are ‘heard’ as:

  • A compliment or two -which nobody hears because we are waiting for the ‘filling’ – those things which are “BAD” and what we are all focused on, followed by some other words that are nice so that we can have a happy ending- but nobody hears them since we are still focused on whatever was just described as “BAD.”

2)   Freely use SBI (Specific Behavior Impact) method.

  • Catch someone doing something well.
  • Describe the situation and its (positive) impact
  • Acknowledge publicly
  • This is a very quick & informal approach – no protracted conversation

3)   Make feedback a routine part of the work environment –with its own ‘drumbeat’

  • Schedule brief feedback sessions, 6X/year
    • This is in addition to your open door policy
  • Plan Session I (start of year) to include a discussion only of:
    • Those things the employee does well.
    • One thing that you ask the employee to work on in the next two months.
      • This doesn’t have to be something that’s sub-par; it can also be a skills acquisition mission.
      • There will be no criticism or any negative feedback
  • Plan Session II to include only:
    • What you’ve observed relative to the one item discussed as a work item in Session 1
      • If it’s gone well: say so and say why.   Say THANK YOU.
      • If it hasn’t gone well: say so and say why.
      • Take the opportunity to add any additional focus items.

4)   Repeat these limited, planned sessions every two months

  • If you are saying ‘THANK YOU’ a lot, this employee is going to reasonably expect to also be compensated, if there is compensation available. (hint, hint)
  • If you are not saying ‘THANK YOU’ a lot, this employee should be told specifically why.
    • He or she should also be given the courtesy of understanding if the situation represents a risk to his employment.
    • This gives him the TLC (time, liability, courtesy) to improve things!

5)  An employee who opts to work on the suggested items becomes a more successful, skilled, valued and acknowledged employee!

☛  The process teaches us to appreciate -not dread –feedback because:

  • It’s planned, it has an expected flow, timeline or checkpoint to discuss concerns again, and fairly gives an employee time to rectify.

Now on to more fearless, engaged employees!