Feedback is an important mechanism by which a single team member or an entire team can receive both praise and criticism about their efforts, often being directed toward an expected level of performance or desired result. Feedback should not be quick. It should be thoughtful, purposeful and deliberate. That alone can be a struggle for some leaders and yet leadership calls us to not only engage with providing feedback but in exchanging feedback.
This is the often described feedback loop – where feedback is provided, received, discussed and understood. This conversational exchange is directly related to having an open and productive working relationship. It informs both our team and ourselves in ways we simply couldn’t be otherwise.
What do we need to do as leaders in order to have this feedback loop in place? What can we do if our feedback loop is broken?
Follow these steps to create or repair your feedback loop:
- Be Purposeful. Schedule the times at which you will provide feedback and invite the team or team member to which the feedback will be directed. Make this meeting recurring according to how often you believe feedback will be available. Of great importance is this – do not meet if there is no feedback or inadequate feedback to be provided – doing so will only devalue the entire feedback loop.
- Be Deliberate. Consider not only the feedback you are to provide; plan out how you will provide the feedback to be delivered. Take time to think through how that feedback will be received. Identify the outcome being sought from the feedback and alter the feedback as appropriate to align with the desired outcome. The key event here is to ensure more time planning what feedback to give than it will actually take to give the feedback.
- Be Open. To those who you are providing feedback, ask for their thoughts and opinions. Beyond hearing their thoughts and opinions- value them. Consider how you might accept their feedback and use their feedback – discussing this openly with them.
- Repeat. The feedback loop is in need of consistency in order to be seen as fixed or working. Continue to have the regular meetings, invite the conversation during other times and notice how the relationship with the team member or entire team are changed for the better for it.
The feedback loop is an important component of leadership. On the surface, it may seem easy to form although it is not. The detailed preparation and delivery take much time and significant practice to get right. The benefits a working feedback loop can afford your team will make the investment worth the time invested. No functional team should be without it.