At Change Positive, we teach feedback at its best—five key elements:
First, let's acknowledge how so much is different today, and into the future.
We're all working from different places in different spaces via video and for many bringing our co-workers into our homes / intimate spaces for the first time ever. Our kids and pets are roaming about and our breakfast dishes may even be visible in the background. Our ability to have social awareness to recognize and empathize with each other's environment is more important than ever. We see our co-workers in a new setting; one we rarely caught a glimpse of before. Remember to be patient, compassionate and kind as we're all impacted in some big or small way by this.
We're relying on video to bridge a feeling of connection yet for many we are still feeling quite disconnected. We infrequently, if at all, share space and time with family, friends, and our co-workers. This leaves us wanting more when it comes to true connection. In the workplace, so much of our connection was through passing in the hall, a doorway conversation, going to lunch together, or a glance across a table at a meeting. Now, our connections are scheduled and limited with a start and end. So, the ability to create more meaningful connection through dialogue and curate the right virtual experience for that connection is essential. This may mean more fun ways to 'check-in,' activities on-screen to create a sense of connection, or efforts to create impromptu & brief touchpoints.
Eye contact, body language, gestures, and mimicry are part of our personal space and connection. However, in a virtual world, we never really make eye contact as we look at our screens while the camera catches our face from a different position. In person, when we talk at the same time, we're still able to track with each other and converse. Electronically, when we speak at the same time it's like hitting a word wall. So, we stop awkwardly saying, "Oh, you go ahead" and it becomes a series of statements, one person after the next, rather than a flow of voices streaming together at the same time.
We still don't have all the answers for what the new normal will truly look like, or how much of the old normal will return. Will we be virtual? 3 days a week? "Moments that matter?" Or, some other catchy description? And, we don't have a good sense of timing for any of these questions. That said, it's important to know that "uncertainty" causes our brain to trigger a fight or flight response. So being able to name and acknowledge the uncertainly you're feeling is important, while also bringing clarity to what is known, will help people feel a greater sense of calm.
With these elements in mind, let's consider how to create the most constructive and energizing way to share feedback and create a positive shift—virtually. The core components are quite similar; yet each requires its own nuance.
As the person sharing feedback, you want the recipient to truly trust your intention—that your desired outcome is to see this person grow to be even more effective and successful. There's a saying, "with the right intent, you can share any content." If a person believes you have their best intentions in mind and if you have a good relationship, you can be direct and should worry less about the words. They'll read your intention regardless of the words. So, as stated above, the need for establishing connection and trust is paramount. So, when it comes time for sharing feedback virtually, first consider:
We can all relate to feedback that lacks context—there's no examples to help you truly understand the feedback, nor are you clear on where/who it's coming from so now you're doubly confused. This is one of the primary things that's broken in feedback today, it's unclear and anonymous. And in a world where uncertainty is triggered every day, unclear feedback shouldn't add to that. Next time you're gathering feedback, be sure to:
This is the crux of the Shift Positive method—we never asking about weaknesses or what is broken. Rather, we work to understand what the person could do instead to be more effective. What is it you want them to-do (vs not do)? When you learn to frame your questions differently and focus on gathering feedback on both what's working/strengths and new desired behaviors, not only will you see others far more willing to provide feedback, you will see the recipient far more energized by having clear actions they can take to be more effective. Re-imagine your next virtual feedback convo like this:
In a recent (mid Pandemic) study done by Life Labs Learning, 67% of the nearly 300 respondents stated now more than ever they are craving feedback given how alone and isolated they feel working from home with disparate teams. Feedback is most powerful within 24 hours of when the circumstances occurred so the recipient has clear recollection. This goes for positive and constructive feedback. Recognizing the elements of today's new normal and each person's working environment being less than ideal, timing matters here too. So, consider the following when giving timely feedback virtually:
We don't change by ourselves. And now more than ever since we aren't seeing each other smiling in the halls or able to exchange social cues more easily in meetings it's important to seek out opportunities to support each other through feedback. Often that support is as simple as positive reinforcement—if you know a colleague is working on asking more questions or you've given them feedback to gather more input from the group, then any time you see them doing this new behavior is an opportunity to reinforce it for them through your support and acknowledgement. Here's a challenge:
We're all looking to up our "virtual game" as we accept that this will without a doubt remain a part of our future. At Change Positive, we've redesigned our training solutions so the experiences are equally effective virtually as in-person. We can train up your teams in how to give the most effective feedback through the Shift Positive method. Contact us—we're ready to help you change the way your leaders experience feedback!