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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP236: Direct Feedback - When and How to Use It

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Great leaders know how to choose the method of feedback that is most likely to get the results they desire. When you are facing situations where you cannot afford to be misunderstood, direct feedback is your most valuable tool. However, it can come with some drawbacks and needs to be used in combination with empathy to be effective. Today, we will discuss when and how to utilize direct feedback.

Direct Feedback and High-Performing Employees

Avoid using direct feedback when addressing a high-tenured or peak-performing employee. You risk making your employees feel unappreciated and frustrated that you are focusing on one bad month instead of their track record of success.

The most appropriate scenario to give direct feedback to a peak performer is when you are giving direct feedback for a job well done. Positive, direct feedback is a good fit for peak performers because they often have a little bit of an ego. Be clear about why you are complimenting their performance to ensure they know you are being genuine and are aware of the quality of their work.

When to use direct feedback:
  1. Use direct feedback with new employees. Not only do new employees need direct feedback but they crave it. You would be doing them a disservice by not providing them with direct feedback. New employees need to know how things are done and how to succeed.

  2. Use direct feedback in critical situations, whenever immediate action is required to address safety concerns, ethical issues, or urgent matters. Direct feedback can ensure a swift response to prevent negative consequences.

Benefits of Direct Feedback:

1. Clarity

Direct feedback leaves little room for misunderstanding, helping the recipient understand exactly what they did well or how to improve their work.

2. Efficiency

Direct feedback gets to the point quickly. Use this approach when you need to save time and help the recipient make changes promptly.

Q: Describe a time when you saw the benefits of direct feedback. Who delivered the feedback? Why do you think they chose a direct approach? What was the outcome?

Drawbacks of Direct Feedback:

1. Emotional Impact

Direct feedback can be perceived as harsh or critical, leading some employees to react emotionally and defensively. Be sure to use empathy in your conversation.

2. Demotivation

High-tenured or peak-performing employees may feel discouraged or undervalued when given direct feedback.

Q: Describe a time when you or someone you know were negatively affected by emotional feedback. Why do you think the leader chose a direct approach? What were the consequences? What do you think the leader could have done differently?

Application Activities:
  1. Practice giving direct feedback with confidence. New employees require a lot of direct feedback to feel confident in their roles and accomplish their objectives. The next time you onboard a new employee, think about 2-3 areas where you need to give direct feedback. Practice what you want to say so it feels natural.

  2. Build trust and a culture of feedback. The next time you receive feedback, share it with your team. Explain how valuable the feedback was to you and what you changed because of it. The more your team sees you value feedback, the more valuable they will find your feedback.


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