Is There a Wrong Time to Give Feedback?

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Is There a Wrong Time to Give Feedback?

There are many articles and posts written about how to give feedback.

Here are just a few of our feedback-focused blog articles in case you are interested:

There are countless models which outline the appropriate steps that will help ensure your message is heard.  We tout a simple, 4 step model for giving both developmental as well as positive feedback.  The first step in that model is what I want to dedicate a little space to here today.  That first step is to “ask permission”.

When is the Right Time to Give Feedback

This step, asking for permission to give feedback, really gets to the heart of when is the right time.

Asking for permission does three things:

  1. It prepares the person receiving the feedback.  Sort of like removing the cap from a bottle before you try to fill it with liquid.  If the lid isn’t off, the liquid is going to go everywhere except where you intended it to go.  When you say, “Hey Kathy, can I give you some feedback?”…there’s no doubt in Kathy’s mind what’s coming next.
  2. It increases the odds your feedback will be effective.  After all, in addition to the feedback being heard, you want something to happen as a result of it.
  3. Gives the receiver permission to tell you it’s not a good time.  Let’s face it.  We all have stuff going on from time to time that’s either urgent or more important than what someone else has to say at that moment.

I will tell you that every time I teach this concept to someone learning how to give feedback, there’s a tendency to assume the receiver of the feedback will use this as an excuse not to listen to what you have to say.  I’ll further tell you that I’ve been using this model for over 20 years and I can count the number of times that happened on 1 finger.  The reality is, once you have told someone you have some feedback for them, they want to know what it is, and they want to know right now.

What if Someone Isn’t Ready to Listen to Feedback?

Let’s say, for illustration purposes, that the person does tell you it’s a bad time.  Here’s what you do:

  • You say “ok!” And then go on to the next thing on your list.  You don’t need an explanation, and you shouldn’t push them to take the feedback.  You simply try again at another time. The caveat, of course, is with feedback so urgent you have to give it immediately.  If that is the case, ie. severe disciplinary topics, you won’t want to ask permission anyway.
  • Schedule a time.  Maybe you’ve tried on several occasions to have the conversation and it always seems like a bad time.  Then you simply tell the person you really need to give them the feedback, ask them for a time that does work, and don’t leave the conversation until you have something on the calendar.

Feedback is the most powerful tool in your manager arsenal–when used effectively and at the right time.

By | 2016-10-25T16:33:53+00:00 April 12th, 2016|Blog, Communications, Leadership|Comments Off on Is There a Wrong Time to Give Feedback?