I was reading You Are Possibly Very Annoying and realized I hadn't posted Esther‘s and my six steps to effective feedback. (This is in the management book, starting publisher editing.) Here they are:
- Make sure you're giving feedback about the work or the working relationships. Especially avoid clothes and other personal appearance issues (unless they interfere with work), choice of romantic interest, religion, child-raising.
- Gather specific examples of observed behavior or results. When you gather specific examples, you're likely to say “The last three times you checked in code, this, this, and that, your code broke the build.” If you say “You always break the build,” all the other person needs is one example of a time he or she didn't. There goes the conversations.
- Determine the outcome you desire. Sometimes you want some joint problem solving. Sometimes, you want to explain a narrow band of acceptable behavior.
- Deliver feedback privately. Unless other people are in danger, or the behavior is unacceptable for your culture, have a private conversation.
- If you have some specific action or result you want, say it. If you’re open to a range of possible solutions, engage in joint problem solving.
- Agree how you’ll follow up.
When Esther and I ran a Feedback Lab at AYE a few years ago, people loved the chance to practice. Take the chance to practice yourself. That way you (and I 🙂 can avoid being possibly annoying.