How to Give Honest and Timely Feedback to Drive Elite Performance
As a Chief People Officer, one of the most important aspects of the role is empowering employees to bring their best selves to work. This involves using data-driven decision-making and performance management to align people's strategy with business goals and vision. One key area that is crucial for success is the ability to give honest and timely feedback. In this article, we will explore the importance of feedback, how to approach it, and the impact it can have on individuals and organizations.
The Power of Honest and Timely Feedback
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, the ability to have real and meaningful conversations with employees is more important than ever. Whether we are working together in person, remotely, or in a hybrid setting, the need for open and honest communication remains constant. Feedback is not just about pointing out areas for improvement; it is also about recognizing and celebrating achievements. By framing feedback as a coaching conversation for the future, we can create an environment that fosters growth and development.
Abby Hamilton, Chief People Officer at LiveIntent, emphasizes the importance of timely and honest conversations. She explains, "If you're not having those conversations now, you're setting yourself and those individuals up for much tougher conversations later on." By addressing issues as they arise and providing feedback in a timely manner, we can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Shifting the Conversation: From Criticism to Coaching
Traditionally, feedback has been associated with criticism and judgment. However, this approach often puts people on the defensive and hinders their ability to grow. To overcome this, we need to shift the conversation from criticism to coaching. By reframing feedback as a way to help individuals improve and develop, we create a more positive and constructive environment.
Abby suggests starting the conversation by asking individuals how they think they did. This approach opens up the dialogue and allows them to share their perspective. She explains, "It gives you a starting point, gives you a jumping-off point, and you can quickly recognize where the level of self-awareness is and where you align versus where you don't." By understanding their perspective, we can provide feedback that is tailored to their needs and goals.
"How do you think you did? Doesn't sound too scary to ask someone versus let me have a feedback conversation with you."
Overcoming the Ego Barrier
One of the biggest challenges in giving and receiving feedback is the ego. We all have a natural tendency to protect ourselves and our self-image. However, by putting aside our egos and embracing vulnerability, we can create an environment that encourages growth and learning.
Abby shares her personal experience of admitting her areas of development to her team. She initially feared that they would perceive her as weak and lacking in competence. However, she was pleasantly surprised when her team rallied behind her and offered their support. This experience taught her the power of vulnerability and how it can foster stronger relationships and open the door for honest conversations.
To empower leaders and individuals to put aside their egos, Abby recommends modeling the behavior we expect from others. By admitting our own faults and seeking feedback, we create a culture that values growth and improvement. Abby says, "If I was unwilling to do that for me and to ask for their feedback or ask for their help, how do I expect them to take my opinion when I come to them and say, 'Alright, next time, move more to the right'?"
"If I share areas of development myself, I admit fault where needed, and encourage those behaviors. Be real with other people. It helps a lot.""
Empowering Leaders to Give Effective Feedback
As a Chief People Officer, it is essential to empower leaders to give effective feedback to their teams. This not only improves individual performance but also creates a culture of continuous improvement. Abby suggests using role-playing and scenario-based exercises to help leaders develop their feedback skills.
Role-playing allows leaders to practice giving feedback in a safe and controlled environment. By simulating real-life scenarios, leaders can gain confidence and develop their coaching abilities. Abby explains, "What you're doing is you're crowdsourcing topics or taking topics that are top of mind based on the conversations you're having presently, and then you're bringing them to the group." This approach ensures that the feedback is relevant and tailored to the specific challenges leaders are facing.
In addition to role-playing, Abby emphasizes the importance of building a community of leaders who can support and learn from each other. By creating a safe space for leaders to share their experiences and seek advice, we foster a culture of collaboration and mentorship. Abby's program, "Lead with Intent," brings leaders together to discuss important topics like feedback and provides a platform for peer coaching and support.
"Maybe it takes one or two conversations up front, but then they're able to convey that they're able to move forward and they're able to do it moving forward on their own."
The Impact of Feedback on Culture and Performance
Creating a feedback culture has a profound impact on both individuals and organizations. When feedback is given and received effectively, it builds trust, strengthens relationships, and improves performance. Abby highlights the positive outcomes she has observed at LiveIntent, such as improved retention and promotion numbers.
By flipping the switch and reframing feedback as a coaching conversation, leaders can create an environment where individuals feel safe to share their thoughts and receive constructive feedback. This leads to increased self-awareness, personal growth, and ultimately, better performance.
Conclusion and Future Outlook
Giving honest and timely feedback is a critical skill for leaders and organizations to develop. By shifting the conversation from criticism to coaching, we can create a culture that values growth and improvement. Empowering leaders to give effective feedback through role-playing and community-building ensures that feedback becomes a natural part of the organizational culture.
As we continue to navigate the challenges of the modern workplace, the ability to have open and honest conversations will become increasingly important. By embracing vulnerability, putting aside our egos, and focusing on coaching for the future, we can drive elite performance and create a culture of continuous improvement.
In conclusion, Abby Hamilton's insights on giving honest and timely feedback provide a roadmap for leaders to create a feedback culture that fosters growth and development. By implementing these strategies, organizations can empower their employees to bring their best selves to work and achieve their full potential.