Creating your own Feedback Circle

- Communication

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by Sam, Management 3.0 Team

This is the second article in a two-part series about feedback.

A little while back our team set out to do what we do best — experiment! We realized that it was nice to receive positive reinforcement and acknowledgement through our peer-to-peer recognition program, but that something more was missing in terms of constructive feedback, the type that so many of us are afraid to ask for but the kind we need to hear. It’s the feedback that helps us gain insight into our blind spots and to ultimately move forward so that we’re happier at work. So we created a feedback program that we think tailors to those needs. 

From the start several things became apparent…

We were focusing on two types of feedback:

  1. Immediate: Telling someone in the moment that something didn’t rub you the right way or that you’d like to discuss a particular action or incident
  2. Long term: Feedback that will enable you to see the bigger picture and help you to grow

Both types needed to factor in two things:

  1. Permission: We needed to ensure that we were asked if it was ok before giving or receiving feedback
  2. Focus on the future: The main goal is to move us forward and not get caught up in overanalyzing past behaviour

With these guidelines in tow, we tackled each type of feedback separately and broke the processes down.

What are the steps to giving immediate feedback?

STEP #1: If you’d like to give someone feedback, who hasn’t asked for it, send them a direct message (we use Slack but it can be on whatever medium your company uses) using a specific emoticon. We created the ‘Feedforward Poke’ (pictured).

This emoticon says: “I’d like to say something to you, is that ok?”

STEP #2: The person on the receiving end can reply using either the same emoticon (meaning sure go ahead) or the ‘Not Now’ emoticon (pictured), saying, I’d rather not.

Step #3: If you get the go ahead you want to send a clear, short message explaining what’s on your mind and what you feel could be done differently next time. For example:

In yesterday’s meeting I felt as if my ideas weren’t being heard because I was continuously cut off. What would be great next time is if you can wait until I finish speaking and then share your thoughts.

The idea with immediate feedback is to make it short, to the point and comment on a specific incident or event that you’d like to change. It’s also important to give it in a timely manner, close to the issue you’re referencing.

How can we give long-term feedback?

The idea with this type of feedback is to foster growth through reflection and conversation. Unlike the immediate system, long term feedback depends on the person themselves asking others for their thoughts, rather than being ‘poked’ by someone else to accept what they have to say.

Immediate feedback should be short, concise and focus on moving forward

For this system we designed a process that allows the person to build their own feedback circle, ask colleagues for their input and then revert back to them with questions or clarifications.

The steps include:

  • Identify Your ‘Dream Team’: Choose between 4-5 people you want in your feedback circle. These can be colleagues, close friends or acquaintances. They should be people whose opinions you respect and they must be from all areas as in 360 feedback (so not five managers or five direct reports – switch it up).
  • Continue or Consider: Once you have your ‘dream team’ ask them to fill out a feedback page. You can make a Google Doc and give them an editable link. On the page write two words: Continue & Consider. Continue means keep this up and Consider means perhaps try this. It’s up to you if you want this feedback to be anonymous or not. Give your team a week (or however long you like – but give them a deadline) to share their thoughts before looking at the comments.
  • Analyze: When the time is up have a look at the sheet. If there’s anything you’re unsure of or want clarity on, this is when you take those questions back to the circle.
  • Choose Your Focus: Once you’re satisfied with everything, pick one area you’d like to hone in on and communicate that to your crew. Then ask them to hold you accountable.
  • Tell your entire team: The more people who know what you’re trying to change the more chance you’ll have at making progress.

Communicate what you’re working on to your entire team and ask them to hold you accountable

I’ve personally used our long-term feedback system and found it to be extremely helpful. Those in my circle also seemed to find it easy to use. Some of their initial feedback included:

  • I liked the process and didn’t mind being part of the circle
  • The methodology worked surprisingly well and your follow-up questions seemed fine
  • It was so simple and basic, nothing complicated, no process, no new tool and yet still very useful
  • What seemed more important (than giving anonymous feedback) was the chance to do it individually (anonymous or not)

Read on about the Management 3.0 practice Feedback Wrap and how to give better feedback.

Want to read more about the importance of feedback and different ways to give it? Read these:

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