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5 guidelines for giving effective FEEDBACK


In a recent post I shared a personal anecdote about my granddaughter which spoke to the motivational value of positive feedback. However, at work it is often uncomfortable and difficult for managers to give feedback and sometimes also for employees to receive it.


I promised to share some guidelines about giving feedback that I have found useful as an executive and advisor on improving organizational performance. The original list was authored by F J Lehner, PhD. I was given it early in my career when I was asked to mentor a new hire to our team for whom I had to give a performance appraisal after four months of working together. He, incidentally, also had to do a review of my role as a ‘training officer’ which was included as one of my development goals. I have condensed the original list of ten points into the following.


· When giving feedback one should focus on observable behaviours rather than the individual’s personality traits as you perceive them.


· Feedback should be based on behaviours in specific situations to which the employee can relate as a basis for review and discussion, rather than abstract descriptions or concepts.


· Always consider the value of the feedback you are offering from the recipient’s point of view and not on its value to help you feel good about yourself.


· Bear in the mind the amount of information that the person receiving your feedback can absorb and use, rather than on the amount you might like to give.


· Be sensitive to when and where it is appropriate to provide feedback.


During the 1960’s, after observing the difficulty managers had providing feedback to their employees, Stuart Atkins and Alan Katcher, both organizational psychologists, developed an approach that provided a language for managers to share feedback that focused on behaviors, was non-threatening, non-judgmental, and could be applied effectively across different cultures. This became the Life Orientations Method (LIFO), which focuses on strengths and how to use them to become more effective in one’s personal relationships at work and elsewhere.


I met Alan Katcher in the late 1990’s after getting certified to use the LIFO Method and was privileged to co-author a book about LIFO with him in 2002 entitled, “Managing Your Strengths.”


I will share more about the LIFO Method in my next posts.

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