Getting Better Result By Giving Better Feedback

I am a compliance practitioner so it is important for me to be able to get people to do the things I ask them to do. This is not evil because I’m trying to get them to do the things they want to do but may lack the belief that they can do. The key things in achieving these results is to provide good feedback. Here are the 5 key elements to offering effective feedback. For clarity’s sake the two players in the feedback session are the giver and the target.

1) Know your goal and clearly define your expectations. Make sure you know how to clearly explain what you are looking for and be prepared to explain how the new behaviour differs from the old behavior, why it is more appropriate and and how it fits into the process.

When I’m instructing a cycling class, my primary goal is to get the target to work slightly harder or modify their position on the bike. If we use hip position on the saddle as an example, I’ll say “move your butt to the back of the seat to make it easier for the big leg muscles to work”. It isn’t much but I know that the legs are able to drive more power to the peddles when the hips are in the right position so I throw it out there. Anyone who grabs onto the advice will improve more quickly.

2) When it is possible, tell the target how their actions made you feel. We are an emotional species so most of us tend to feel stuff; always assume the target deals with emotions until you learn otherwise. If we realize that the tone of our voice make someone feel like we are angry, we’re able to draw the connection between the stimulus and the response.

Compare the following two statements, “why are you angry?” and “when you use that tone, it makes me feel like you are angry.” Which do you think will facilitate the quickest change?

Letting the target know how you feel also transfers a lot of the responsibility of the outcome over to you. This will help to keep them open to the suggested changes while giving them valuable information to help modify their behaviour.

3) Get them to project themselves into the future to try and feel what it will be like when they are more successful at the task. This will help to motivate the target to adopt the suggested chances because they will pair the changes to the desired outcome.

To go back to the hips on the saddle example, I’ll say something like “strong leg muscles make those hills easier this season” or “work hard like the quality of your life depends on it”. The goal is to try and help them see the value tomorrow of working hard today. When it’s done effectively, facilitating change is a piece of cake.

4) Let go of judgement. Always assume that the target is acting in their best interest and, when their behaviour goes against their best interests, assume it is because the target doesn’t have enough information to make the right decision. The role of the giver is to provide the target with the information they are lacking.

You can say things like:
Did you know that…, here is something that may help…, here is another option for that…, I have found that doing…, that’s the way I used to do it until…,

5) Be honest but caring. People know a line of BS when they hear it and will resent you for it. You need to be truthful with them but you need to be caring about it because the target may take the feedback as a statement that their actions were wrong. If this happens, it can start an unconscious defense reaction that will cause the target to close up. You will minimize the risk of this by telling them how their actions made you feel.