By Mary Starr, CWC, CCWS; Executive Vice President

“Giving feedback is an art. In the hands of an unskilled person it can hurt performance, destroy motivation and jeopardize self-esteem.”

As a management team our goal is to use Strength Based Management to help each of us reach our fullest potential. A critical ingredient of this strength based approach is the proper use of feedback. As we are all in the position of providing feedback, whether it be in our professional or our personal lives, I felt it appropriate to share some of the key takeaways from a recent article by Kimberly Paterson.

• Constructive feedback, when given inappropriately, can cause defenses to go up causing the recipient to lose the ability to hear incoming information with an open mind.

• Communicate behavior you would like to see rather than dwelling on past mistakes.

• Positive feedback stimulates learning; attention on weaknesses smothers it.

• We tend to learn best in our comfort zone-where we are most creative, insightful, productive and open to possibilities. When we get too far out of our comfort zone our brain can shut down.

• Meet people where they are at, focus on what they are doing right and cultivate it. Comfortably stretch this comfort zone by coaching to subtly shift or expand a current capability.

• Feedback is more about the person giving it rather than the person being evaluated. Feedback is your perspective. Avoid positioning yourself as source of what is right or wrong. Instead focus on what you can learn from the situation.

• Do not come off as the authority on another’s behavior.

• Be curious and not certain. Use conversation as an opportunity for understanding and genuine learning for both parties. Agree on what should happen next.

• Each person’s version of excellence is uniquely formed and an expression of their traits and life experiences.

• Growth requires understanding of where we need to improve. Be specific and direct about what needs to change and why. Be factual and not interpretive. Focus on the particular behavior you want the person to demonstrate rather than your interpretation of their behavior.

• It is equally important to let people know they are valued and how they contribute. Without the affirmation of their value people have little motivation to improve.

• Establish expectations collaboratively, provide future-oriented direction and focus on achievement-oriented accountability.

• We all want players and not just fans. Fans wear your jersey and cheer from the stands. Players put in extra practice, score points and give every last ounce of energy to win. Engaged teammates are your players. Engaged teammates are eager to work, intrinsically motivated to perform, and naturally seek new and creative ways to make improvements.

“Giving feedback is an art. When delivered with expertise, respect, curiosity and the honest intention to support someone’s success, feedback can be a game-changer.”