How to give feedback so that it is taken on board

Many readers of this blog will be familiar with Brian Cook, the current CEO of Geelong Football Club and ex-CEO of the West Coast Eagles Football Club. He is a man respected for his leadership ability at both clubs.

When I interviewed him for my book Do What You Say You’ll Dohe had many pieces of wisdom on leadership more generally — but what he had to say on feedback is brilliant in its simplicity — “Right time, right place, right way.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I bang on about feedback all the time; what a gift it is etc etc.. And that is true. However, I do think that for the message to be heard (particularly if you are giving negative feedback or a message the recipient may not want to hear), that using Brian’s approach is a good one. It also dramatically improves your chance of success.

This week, I heard of two examples of where feedback was given; and both times the manner in which it was delivered overtook the message to the extent that the actual feedback itself wasn’t even really heard.  Now, we are all human and thus imperfect. There will always be genuine mistakes of judgement, where you think after delivering a message “yikes,  I could have done that differently.” I am not talking about those times. I am talking about the times where you consciously set out to provide feedback but don’t use Brian’s parameters as a guiding mechanism. Or worse, do think about them, but decide to forge on anyway.  The times when it is more about you having your say, irrespective of how it will be received.

Ultimately, it depends on the degree to which you actually want your message to be heard, understood and for some behavioural or other change to occur as a result of it. If you actually want those things to happen, then putting as much time into the: right time, right place, right way as crafting the actual message itself is time well spent.

And of course, there are no guarantees as to how it will be received, notwithstanding all that effort. But, it has to have a better chance of success if you have thought it through.

So this week’s takeaways:

  • When crafting your feedback message — think of the action that you are giving feedback about, the impact that the action had, and the desired change you would like to see.
  • Now, take a moment to think about when, where and how to best deliver this feedback. Take a moment to put yourself in the receiving person’s shoes.

Until next week, happy leading.

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Tammy Tansley
I am a coffee loving, energetic human who loves words, bright colours and spots, silly t'shirts and good champagne. Mum to two beautiful mischiefs. Long time wanderer around the world. Author. Blogger. Speaker.
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