4 Elements of Effective Feedback

My immaturity is exposed when it comes to providing and receiving feedback. In 2018, I am committing to changing the way I do this as a leader. One of the reasons I am posting this in a public forum is to open myself up for healthy feedback whenever I provide or receive it incorrectly from this point forward. I have dwindled feedback into four different elements that might help you in the development of your team.

  1. The Feedback Window — The time in which the feedback is provided. Most of the time, in leadership and especially in marriage, I have discovered that when you provide the feedback is just as critical as to what the nature of the feedback is. I have lived in the reality of saying the right thing at the wrong time for a long time. The revelation to the reality of a feedback window allows for both parties to expect an interaction that they can be prepared for. Feedback that surprises, that is, feedback without warning, won’t stick because of how much it stings. Recognizing and identifying your own feedback window is the first step. Audit your reactions to previous feedback sessions and set up the ideal time to receive outsider insight. This is extremely practical and something I wish I would have learned 10 years ago when starting out in full-time ministry. I would have been mature enough to recognize my emotional vulnerability and it would have brought more composure to my demeanor during those meetings. The second step is making sure you know when the recipient’s window is. This way you can time your delivery to match their window. Great leaders know their own window and the window of those they lead. Auditing my ministry career, I could have saved myself losing a ton of sound technicians had I waited until the appropriate time to provide feedback on the feedback. My feedback window is from Monday after lunch to Tuesday evening. This is critically important for me to realize. Even more important for my team to realize. By Monday at noon, I have slept, ate & exercised prior to hearing how terrible my sermon was from someone who has never preached. That’s why I don’t do email until Monday evening.
  2. The Feedback Method — The way in which the feedback is delivered. We love to text in 2018. We love to hide behind tiny screens and deliver shots that neglect vocal tone and body language. This has gotten me in trouble on multiple occasions. Texting is quite possibly the worst method to deliver feedback in. It presents no context. It prohibits a genuine dialog. Now the flip side to feedback is the need for documentation that adjustments need to be made. Feedback without follow-up will result in repeated failure. There are very few methods that can replace a face to face meeting. My feedback method of preference is a face to face meeting with documentation as a follow-up.
  3. The Feedback Frequency — The schedule in which the feedback is communicated provides consistency. A one-time feedback meeting leaves both parties in an unknown state. There needs to be an ongoing improvement plan. Frequency allows for the level of trust to increase as the relationship develops. Feedback given frequently will become easier over time. Attend enough staff meetings with Mike Santiago and eventually you will know what the expectations are. As trust levels rise, so does the ease of the delivery of feedback and the frequency of that feedback. When you give frequent feedback you get better at delivering it based on the core principles and not emotional responses to stuff that really doesn’t matter. My desire is to have feedback weekly. Because I preach every week and our church is open for a joint gathering every 6 days, this means that I need the frequency to be weekly.
  4. The Feedback Loop — The cycle in which the feedback is given and received. Correction is not feedback because correction does not allow for a loop to happen. When feedback is unidirectional, it’s really not feedback, instead, it’s actually correction. Correction is what I do when I discipline my kids, feedback is what I give and receive when I meet with my team. Correction comes from a place of authority, feedback comes from a place of authenticity. It is critical to let the door swing both ways in a setting where feedback is happening. Allow the recipient to voice not only their opinion, but to provide outsider insight to you as a team member.
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