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Feedback - Make it Descriptive

Have you ever heard yourself say to a team member - "You'rereally great" - "You're a star" - I think you're brilliant"- "You're doing a great job!"

It's got to be a plus point that you're giving ConfirmingFeedback and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with any ofthe statements above; however, they could be better. Thereis also the danger that these statements could come acrossas a bit patronising.

Managers who find it a bit difficult to give Confirmingfeedback might also feel uncomfortable with these types ofstatements.

One of the other reasons for giving Confirming Feedback isto get more of the same behaviour; the statements above maynot ensure that. Let me give you and example of what I mean.

Fred has just submitted a report which you're pleased withand you decide to tell him so - "That's a great report Fred;you're brilliant at writing reports!"

But what made the report great and why is Fred so brilliantat writing them?It would have been better to say - "I liked the way youstructured that report Fred, the words you used and the useof diagrams made it easy for me to understand. Thank you forthe time you have obviously put into it."Fred now knows what it is you like about his report and ismore likely to write it in a similar way in the future.

This is what we call being Descriptive. You are describingto the team member what you saw or heard that you liked.This carries much more weight than a - "Well done!" Managers who are uncomfortable with Confirming Feedback findthis easier to do because it takes the "emotion" out of thestatement. There is also less risk of sounding patronising.

It's even more important to use descriptive statements whenyou see or hear something you're not happy with.

This is where we need to do a lot more thinking and a lotless reacting.

It's so easy to react when a team member does or sayssomething we don't like. We say things like - "You've gotthe wrong attitude!"- "You're hopeless!" - "That was astupid way to deal with that situation!" - "You'll need toshape up!" - "You're not very responsible!"Statements like these will only get the team members back upand won't get the change in behaviour you want.

Let's say that one of your team turns up late for the thirdtime in a week. You decided to ignore the first two latesituations but this third time has made you angry. You mightsay - "You've got the wrong attitude to this job, you'realways late and I'm not having it. If you're late againyou'll receive an official warning."

That statement is not descriptive, it's reactive. Itstresses you, it de-motivates the team member and it'sunlikely to resolve the situation. A descriptive statementwould be - "I'm unhappy with the fact that you've been latefor work three times this week. I'm willing to hear yourreasons for being late and agree with you how we can preventthis happening in the future."

You're letting the team member know that you're not preparedto accept their lateness but you're willing to hear theirside of the story.When you describe performance you are focussing on specificbehaviour. You describe what you see and what you hear inclear terms that the team member can also see, hear andunderstand.

If you're not prepared to accept that then you need to tellthem so. However, you may wish to make a judgement call andaccept their timekeeping. At the end of the day it comesback to outcomes - are they producing the results? You mayhave to consider how their timekeeping affects the othermembers of the team.

I've only talked about lateness here however there are manyother situations where you'll be required to give someProductive Feedback and coach people. It could be the waythe team member speaks to a customer or a colleague. Itcould be for failing to produce the required results.Whatever it is, using descriptive statements and coachingthe individual will resolve the situation in terms of yourinterests and the team members.

Discover how you can generate more business by motivatingyour team!Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Salesby Motivating Your Team" This book is packed with practicalthings you can do to get the best out of your people. Click here now

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