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When we hear the word feedback, we think of telling someone what we think about how they performed so they can do better. Sounds easy. But just because you give someone feedback doesn't mean your feedback will help them. In fact, it's common for feedback to hurt more than it helps. Part of the explanation we've already talked about. That's understanding the characteristics of great feedback. But in addition, we have to talk about the three main types of feedback. They are, standards-based feedback, informational feedback, and emotional feedback.
Lets briefly consider each one. Standards-based feedback is information you provide to someone to let them know whether they did or did not meet some standard. It's about the outcome. For example in high school we tried out for sports teams and after tryouts a list of names was posted the people on the list made the team those not on the list did not and that's all you knew. Versions of this happen all the time. If you work in a call center and don't reach the standard number of required calls in a month your boss is likely to remind you if you fell short and maybe by how much.
There is utility in this type of feedback. The information does add clarity as to how well or at what level you're performing. It tells you whether or not you achieved the outcome in question. The downside standard based feedback is that is not terribly helpful. Telling someone they didn't make the call quota for the month in the call center doesn't provide them with anything actionable they can use to improve their performance. I don't want to say that this type of feedback is wrong, it's just incomplete. That's why we always want to pair standards based feedback with informational feedback.
This is feedback that addresses the skills and behaviors underlying the outcome that is being pursued. Thus, it's not about what was or was not achieved, but about why this particular outcome happened. For example, you might say, Stewart, your presentation was odd today. It started really strong, but then you seemed to lose the group in the middle. Two things really stuck out to me. First, you were really striving to pack in too much information, and I think people found it difficult to keep up. Second, after the slide on the South American market, you then went into a lot of technical product specs, which surprised everyone.
The two of these together made people check out and start playing with their phones instead of listening to you. This is a good example of balanced feedback. It has standards-based information, Stuart was told his presentation was not great. It also has two great bit of helpful insight that were informational in nature. The fact that too much information was being delivered. And the fact that some topics did not fit. With both types in hand, Stewart has a good chance to improve. A third type of feedback is emotional feedback. This really is a special delicate form of information feedback.
If unproductive emotions help explain lower-than-expected performance, it's your job to deal with it. Just remember, no one likes to receive feedback about emotions, and it can be seen as a personal attack. So if you see an angry outburst in a meeting, hear someone using a raised voice with a customer, or if they show you anger when they didn't receive promotion they wanted. Keep these tips in mind. First, address the behavior immediately. Then, openly call it a problem but show empathy.
Finally, redirect them towards more productive behavior. So, for example, if you see that outburst in a meeting, you'll want to speak up and say, hold up Marty, this is starting to sound like a serious argument. I can understand. We've all felt strong emotions on this issue. But let's refocus on the real issue at hand. We're not talking so much about the decision you guys made yesterday, as much as how we're going to address this with the customer next week, okay? In this example, Marty was publicly called out as engaging in unacceptable behaviour.
And nobody wants to be associated with ugly behaviour once it's been identified as such. The leader in the example was wise then to immediately follow by admitting that we've all shared strong emotions on this topic. Finally, Marty and the team are redirected to the real task at hand, getting ready for the customer next week. The next time you think about giving someone feedback, remember your choices. Standards-based, informational and emotional. I want you to remember to you standards based and informational together.
And I want you to be brave enough to use emotional feedback when needed. When you do, your team will know exactly where you stand. So, they can be more focused and productive.
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