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Give Bad Feedback & Things Get Worse: Cut It Out!

Oh wait! This title is bad feedback all by itself. We’ve all experienced it. Let’s see if we can fix that…

Two truths about improving performance:

  1. In many cases, giving good feedback might be just what’s needed.
  2. Giving good feedback is much harder than it sounds.

08-29 Not All About What's Broken

It’s Not All About What’s Broken

Note: Vague feedback is not helpful.

Note: Negative feedback (that is all about mistakes) is not helpful.

If you tell someone that he isn’t doing well without any clue about how he could do better, he may feel overwhelmed. If getting better seems to be “too hard,” he won’t try. For example:

  • “Your numbers are too low.”
  • “This isn’t written well.”
  • “That’s a mistake.”

Managers (or instructors, for that matter), can make all the difference by providing guidance related to the specific decisions and actions a person can take to make things better.

Dr. Clark provides three steps for providing gap-focused feedback that will help to increase performance:

  1. Describe what the person has accomplished (what they did get right)
  2. Review the goal they were trying to reach
  3. Discuss how the gap can be closed to reach the goal.

So give feedback… yes! This is a powerful way to help people improve their performance. Sadly, feedback is often given in a way that makes things worse. So, center feedback around how to close the gap between what is actually happening and the goal your employee or learner is trying to reach. That should help to bridge the gap between something that is not working as desired and where you want to be.


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