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6 Levels of Feedback

This podcast episode discusses 6 Levels of feedback. With each level, we increase the degree of conversation productivity. It’s an essential skill for any Leader Coach.

Level 1: Not giving feedback at all

not giving feedback is a perfect recipe for disengagement. It is the worst of all styles of feedback. Simply assuming people will do what they told and feedback is only given when things go REALLY wrong. Otherwise, there is radio silence.

Level 2: Personalised Criticism

Directly criticizing the other person. ‘You were inconsiderate.’ ‘You are useless’. We are labeling the other person. This typically puts people into fight/flight/freeze mode and renders most conversations unproductive.

Level 3: Judgmental Comment

‘your report was useless’. ‘Your work is shoddy’. In this type of feedback we don’t attack the person directly, but instead their work or deliverables. The effect is quite similar. Judgment triggers emotions. People feel talked down to. They usually don’t feel care.

Level 4: Feedback Sandwich

Try to cushion your judgment with something positive, so that it does not come across so harsh. People who do this are aware that their feedback might lead to a difficult conversation, and they want to anticipate and remediate that by giving positive feedback at the same time. The result? The positive feedback is wasted. People don’t hear it.

Level 5: Behaviour and Impact

We make a distinction between what happened and what the potential intent was. We observe and share the behavior and its impact. ‘I saw you get up and point the finger at him. That resulted in him getting angry and leave the room. What lead to you raising it this way?’

Level 6: Strength-based Feedback

The distinction to L5 is that we deliberately observe and share on the basis of what worked. We go beyond the usual negativity bias and anchor our feedback in such a way that positive and negative observations are both received well. In the long run, we end up sharing a lot more positive than negative observations (otherwise the person would likely not work for us anyway!)

What’s the purpose of all this? Why should we bother to aim for a higher level of feedback? It keeps our conversations productive and away from fight/flight/freeze responses. If we truly want that our feedback is heard, we have to deliver it in a way that others feel understood and respected and acknowledged for their strengths.

Cheers, Maik

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