Feedback is an essential component at every level of leadership. Yet, for many people, sharing and receiving feedback can be a daunting experience. Consider these questions:

  • How does one grow and develop without feedback?
  • How does one improve without knowing what he or she is doing well and what are the areas for improvement?
  • How do leaders learn about their own blind spots without someone bringing them forth?
  • How do teams understand what would make them more effective?

All of these things can only occur in a culture where feedback is shared and well-received. It is strengthened by a foundation of trust coupled with encouragement.

If you are a leader giving feedback, here is a process that can support a healthy conversation with your direct report:

  • Encourage the direct report to share their celebrations and wins first: “What went well? What would you like to celebrate about yourself or your team?”
  • Acknowledge who they are and what they have done: “Your persistence to get to the bottom of the problem was evident throughout the project. I want to acknowledge your focus to the priorities.”
  • Ask them about the challenges they faced. This approach allows them to share what they might have found difficult; then, you can add anything else you noticed. “What did you and your team find difficult? What was challenging? Yes, I noticed that, too.”
  • Inquire about possible solutions to the challenges: “What are possible solutions that would help alleviate the challenge? What options are available to you? What would you like to do about that?”
  • Be concrete with next steps, and add any suggestions you have: “Of all the possible solutions, which one will you be implementing? What will you experiment with? What will you try?”
  • Discuss obstacles that might get in the way: “What might get in the way of you sticking to this plan? What might be some challenges?”
  • Discuss support systems: “What kind of support do you need from me? What would set you up for success? What would be helpful to you?”
  • Confirm the form of accountability: “When would you like to discuss progress?”

This simple strategy allows leaders to put the ownership of the feedback and the next steps on the person receiving it, embracing the mindset that people are resourceful and capable. This mindset allows the leader to shift from telling to equipping and from directing to empowering.

For people receiving feedback, there are a few things that are helpful to remember:

  • Do not take it personally.
  • Come with a mindset that embraces feedback as a tool that allows you to grow and make changes that support the sustainability, effectiveness and advancement of your career.
  • Consider one or two areas to give your intention and focus, remembering that little changes make a huge impact.

Although feedback has the potential to be intimidating and daunting, it does not have to be. Make an intention to see feedback as:

  • An opportunity for growth and development
  • An opportunity to suspend judgment in favor of curiosity and open-mindedness
  • An opportunity to set aside assumptions, beliefs and fears to be present to what the other person is truly saying

Here’s to sharing and receiving powerful feedback in 2019!