Setting the Stage: 3 Tips to Prepare for Any Feedback Conversation

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Shameless plug, I just wrote my first book and it’s available on Amazon!  It started as a grad school project that evolved over the last 10 years.  I would share it with people, to be helpful, and more and more I was hearing, “You should publish this”.   So I finally did. The feedback (no pun intended) has been so supportive and rewarding. While I hope people continue to find their way to the full workbook, I wanted to share some of the biggest takeaways I hope people gain while they go through the exercises!

Prepare your script  – Take the time to prepare for your conversation.  The worst thing you can do is rush into a conversation.  Gather feedback from others, if appropriate, so it’s not just your point of view.  Have examples of the behavior or skill gap ready. Think about is this a change in performance, and if so, why that might be the case.  Be ready with a proposed action plan to help turn the performance around (or how they can double down on something they are doing really well).  

Remember feedback should be a dialogue, not a monologue – Especially if you are nervous, uncomfortable, or excited about the feedback, it’s easy to rush through your talking points without taking a breath.   This should be a feedback conversation.  Ask questions and get their reactions.  Ask what you could be doing differently as their manager (or more of to encourage/recognize the positives).  Involve them in determining the next steps. This is a partnership and your team members will be much more willing to make the change if they are bought into the action plan coming out of the meeting.

These are not characters on a page, they are living humans – I know that sounds obvious, but it’s sometimes hard to remember.  They are sitting in front of you, formed by their background, life experiences, natural behavior tendencies (think MBTI or DiSC) and carrying their baggage (or expectations) from previous conversations or manager relationships.   And you are human as well! Approach each conversation with the perspective of best intentions (everyone is trying to do their best). And if something goes unexpected, try to navigate as best as you can on the spot. Reflect after the conversation to see if there was anything different you could have done to avoid the land mine you stepped on at the moment.  

Even when sharing positive conversations, prepping to give feedback is hard and not something to take lightly.   But luckily you aren’t alone. Your HR Partners are there to help. If you are that HR Partner, remember you do this every day and it’s still working to prep so be patient with your managers!   And lucky for you, you know me, and I’m here to help as well. Check out my workbook on Amazon for more exercises and advice on how to prepare for an upcoming feedback conversation.   Or reach out to me directly to set up a coaching session (one free session with the purchase of the workbook!) and we can work through it together.  Good luck, you got this!