One of the most common excuses I hear on training workshops about performance management and feedback is ‘I need more practice’. Fair enough. Practice is essential to develop any skill. But if you just wait for ‘the right time’ to happen along – it won’t. So how can you practise your feedback skills and really get them ‘in the muscle’?
As well as giving colleagues feedback at work, there are opportunities beyond the workplace to develop the feedback habit. A rich seam is when you get any kind of service. If it’s good, bad or somewhere in between, you can first sharpen your powers of observation and second, develop your skills for what you say and how you say it.
1. In the gym
What does the gym manager / class instructor / personal trainer do that merits feedback? Make sure you’re getting beneath the adjectives (helpful, lively, encouraging, etc.) as they’re your opinion. To give feedback that’s useful you need to identify the behaviour the recipient could do more or less of. Do they always give you a warm welcome? If it’s a personal trainer, do they give you clear feedback on what you need to more / less of?
2.At the coffee shop
Does your barista greet you with a smile? Or slop your coffee as they hand it to you?
Do the local people offer to help you, or recommend places to go? Or do they pester you on the beach every day, trying to sell you stuff?
4.In the supermarket
Did the member of staff stacking shelves go and check for what you wanted (and couldn’t find) and return promptly? Or did they disappear, never to return? If the latter, some feedback is due to the manager…
5.Dealing with tradespeople
We recently had a fence repaired by a great guy who: called back promptly and turned up to quote when he said he would; arrived first thing and got the job done perfectly; offered advice. It’s great to be able to give him positive feedback online. On the other hand, most of us have experienced ‘tradies’ who fall down on the job in some way.
This one’s full of potential – good and bad. There are airlines (a pet topic in our household), cab firms, buses – and let’s not get started on commuter trains. Are they on time more often than not? Or are they always late, giving little or no explanation?
Does the waiter/waitress notice when your water needs topping up – before you do? Or do you have to wave frantically to get their attention?
Did your neighbour take in a delivery for you (again)? Or do they leave rubbish to rot right outside? Have you asked them for feedback since you installed that high-end home cinema system?
9.At an event
Do the people at the venue tell you to ‘enjoy the concert’? Or are they too busy talking to each other?
10.At a hotel
How was the welcome and check-in? How was your room? How was the service? Huge queues to check out? There’s no shortage of points at which we can give feedback.
Remember, giving feedback is to hand the recipient a gift they can make use of. In some cases it can really make someone’s day. So why not take more opportunities to get in the habit?
Image: Ron Harvey/Deposit Photos