How many of us give good and consistent feedback to the people / teams that we work with? There would a handful a people who put their hands up for the question above. Why so few? The reasons are varied: It is hard to do; I am afraid I will say something I will regret; People get emotional when they hear things they do not like; It will mess up with my relationships. All of these concerns are valid; but the all stem from the common mistakes that people make when giving feedback:
The feedback judge’s individuals, not actions.
This is the number one mistake people make in giving feedback is putting it in judgmental terms. If the Scrum Master says to someone “You were to abrasive” or “You need to a better tea, player”. This is judgmental feedback, by the time these words are received by the feedback recipient, He is already thinking “Who do you think you are calling me abrasive”. The energy spent in defending themselves from your attach defeats any chance of having a meaningful conversation
The Feedback is exaggerated with generalities
Another key mistake is using language like “always” or “never”. Hearing these words people naturally get defensive as they can remember plenty of times when they did not do what you claim they did.
The Feedback contains implied threat
Telling someone her job is in jeopardy (“Do you want to be successful in the organization or the team?”) does not reinforce good behavior or illustrate bad behavior. It only creates animosity
The Feedback uses inappropriate humor
If giving feedback is uncomfortable to you, or if you sometimes speak before thinking, you might use sarcasm as a substitute for feedback, But saying “Good Afternoon” to a colleague who is ten minutes late for a morning meeting doesn’t tell that person how that behavior affected you or provide reasons to change that behavior
The Feedback is question, not a statement
Phrasing feedback as a question (“Do you think you can pay closer attention during our next meeting?”) is too indirect to be effective. It may be also be a interpreted as sarcastic, or rhetorical, to which the recipient may respond with indifference
One can avoid common feedback mistakes by learning how to communicate important information about the performance to colleagues, peers or superiors in a way what you are saying and helps them identify ways in which they can improve. During the course, of giving feedback to various people and system, have developed a new technique called as “SBI – Situation Behavior Impact”.
Using this concept of giving the feedback, the recipient can more easily see that action he or she can take to continue and improve performance or to change behavior that is ineffective or even an obstacle to performance.
SBI technique is effective because it is simple and one while giving feedback, they describe the behavior you observed and explain the impact that the behavior had on the system or the team or the project.
Be Simple, Direct and Effective – Learn these 3 step and practice them regularly.
Remember capturing the situation is only the start of the feedback session. Here are some examples to start with:
- “Yesterday during the Daily Scrum, while the team was discussing the status of XYZ user story ….”
- During the Retrospective, while the team was speaking on a ABC issue ….”
- This past Friday during the Release celebration cocktail party ….”
Specificity is important when recalling the situation. The more specifics and details you can use in bringing the situation to mind, the clearer you message would be.
Describing the behavior is next step to providing effective feedback. It’s also the most critical step and is often omitted, It is also the most difficult one to describe. The most common mistake is giving the feedback happens when judgments are communicated using adjectives that describe a person and the person’s action.
Consider the phrases below:
- You were rude during the meeting
- She seemed to be bored at the sprint review
- He seemed pleased with the report as presented to management
These phrases describe an observer’s impression or interpretation of a behavior. Now let’s have a look at some other list of actions as observer might witness that would lead to those impressions and interpretations:
- He spoke at the same time another person was speaking (Rude)
- She yawned, rolled her eyes and looked out the window (Bored)
- He smiled and nodded his head (Pleased)
The list of phrases as given above actual describe a person’s action. The focus is on the actual behavior not on a judgement as to what the behavior might mean. By focusing on the action, not the impression, Scrum Master can communicate clear facts that person can understand and act upon.
So when giving feedback using SBI, it is not only important to capture what is said or done but how it is said and done. You can capture the how by paying attention to three things: Body Language, tone of voice and speaking manner and word choice.
Body language is non-verbal communication can include facial expression, eye movement, body posture and hand gestures.
The final step in giving feedback is to relay the impact that the other person’s behavior had on the team, project or anything else.
By communicating the impact a behavior has had on the you (personally) or on the team or the project, you are sharing a point of view from your perspective. This would help build trust, which in turn can lead to even more effective communication.
To develop your effectiveness in carrying out the impact stage of giving feedback, practice putting your feedback in form of “When you did (behavior), I felt (Impact)” or “When you said (behavior), I was (impacted)”.
Putting it all together
Review the situation, behavior and impact steps that build effective feedback and practice those steps at every opportunity. Take time to reflect on your feedback efforts. Ask yourself “Why did I pay attention to this particular behavior?”, What does this say about me?
Reflection also gives you time to understand the true impact the behavior had on you.
You will in turn will benefit from developing a useful skill that not only helps to raise productivity of all people around you, but also bolsters your personal Leadership skills.