If Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions, Why are we Going Hungry?

champAs the saying goes feedback is the breakfast of champions, however, a lot of us would like to skip this particular breakfast for fear of hearing negative feedback about how we are performing.

Most managers are also feedback averse for similar reasons, they don’t like delivering bad news. They either decide to ignore the bad behaviour in the hope it will improve on its own, or they deliver the feedback in such a vague way the recipient has no idea whether the feedback was good or bad!

Why is feedback important?

How are we going to know if we are doing a good/bad or brilliant job if no one tells us? Feedback is essential to either keep us on track or get us back on track. Most millennials are feedback hungry – they grew up with so much feedback every day. From their computer games with instant scoring to the sports arena where everyone gets a medal and from their parents who are constantly praising them for everything. So if they are hungry for feedback and I believe it’s not just positive feedback, let’s give it to them!!

I’d like to share a recent article by Michelle Luke from the University of Sussex, who carried out a feedback experiment on 212 participants. They found that positive feedback fuels a multitude of processes such as satisfaction, self-esteem, optimism and made people more focused on performing well in the future. So why would you not be looking at ways to do this with all of your team more often?

But what about the other type of feedback, when things aren’t being done correctly? We call this type of feedback, improvement feedback, rather than negative or constructive feedback. It is essential that improvement feedback is provided to get people back on track, otherwise, they will continue (and often get worse) to do the wrong thing. Luke found this type of feedback, rated as even more satisfying in the long term because there is potentially more to be gained from feedback that charts an upward trajectory over time.

Why are most managers not good at giving feedback or they avoid it?

When it comes to giving positive feedback, we are not tuned in to look for the things our team is doing right – we always look for what they have done wrong. We need a mindset change to focus on catching them doing it right.

When it comes to offering improvement feedback, from our experience, most managers see it as confrontational, they are afraid the team member will take it personally and get upset. It’s just easier to avoid it altogether.

How do you give feedback that works?

Here’s the secret to giving feedback, both positive and improvement that works – focus on the behaviour, not the person or the attitude. The reason why most team members get upset is because they feel as though they are being attacked. When you focus on their behaviour, which is simply what did they say or do, they can’t argue with you and most team members get it straight away and are open to change.

Then when they do it right the next time, make sure you praise the behaviour change you have just witnessed. This helps to lock in the new behaviour and they are now on the right track to being successful.

So what’s stopping you now? Go out there and provide the breakfast food of feedback we all want to eat!

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.