Along with supporting social purpose organizations worldwide conquer the fundraising market, our consultancy provides HR support through both our recruitment service and a diverse training offering. Though identifying and getting the right talents in your team is essential to meeting your organizational goals, it is not an end in itself. Indeed, what is truly at stake is your ability to retain those talents, to nurture their potential and to help them develop. One tool that is not only powerful but easy to introduce and implement both within your team and throughout your organization is feedback.
In this article, we deep dive into that notion and guide you through the implementation of proper feedback channels.
Positive, Developmental, or Corrective
Though commonly used as a generic term, “feedback” is actually a nuanced concept. There are indeed three distinct types of feedback: positive, developmental, and corrective.
Positive feedback is essential to recognizing where an employee or a colleague is performing well. Sharing such feedback is not only beneficial as it lets your peer know that you recognize his or her value to the team, but also as it tends to trigger further positive behavior and to create accountability. However, such feedback has to be genuine and deserved, otherwise it will have the opposite effect on your team member. An excess of “good job on this” and “well-done on that” will thus be counterproductive.
Positive feedback is beneficial as it lets your peer know that you recognize his or her value to the team, but also as it tends to trigger further positive behavior and to create accountability.
In addition to positive feedback, developmental feedback can be used to suggest ways a performing employee could do even better. Such feedback does not focus on serious concerns – i.e. skills that are essential to the position but are not being mastered, but on characteristics to refine, polish or develop further. For instance, you have a fundraiser in your team who inevitably managed to secure funding over the past 3 years. However, this staff member, though performing, has a tendency to always present dense word documents as proposals, which are less than appealing on the outside. This in mind, you might want to suggest ideas on how to make proposals look more appealing, by including the communication team throughout the proposal development process for instance.
Developmental feedback does not focus on serious concerns – i.e. skills that are essential to the position but are not being mastered, but on characteristics to refine, polish or develop further.
Corrective feedback on the other hand highlights behaviors that should change in order to meet the expectations of a position. It is perceived by most individuals, managers and peers alike, as the hardest to give as it emphasizes areas where a fellow team member is not performing. Many would then prefer to discard such feedback instead of being faced with the discomfort of sharing it. However, giving corrective feedback is essential for the well-being of both your staffer, yourself, your team and your organization as the longer you wait, the more the incorrect behavior will take root and become harder to adjust.
Giving corrective feedback is essential for the well-being of both your staffer, yourself, your team and your organization.
Give F.A.S.T. feedback
If given properly, most team members welcome all three types of feedback. This in mind, adopting a nuanced and organized approach to feedback will tremendously contribute to the growth of your team member, especially corrective feedback!
However, in order to be fully beneficial, feedback has to be Frequent, Accurate, Specific and Timely. Whether it is positive, developmental or corrective, feedback is best understood when given as a direct reaction of an observed behavior that can be changed. Providing feedback in a timely manner is also a good way to make sure that events are clear in both parties’ minds. In addition, it is essential to focus on direct observations rather than on hearsay, in order for both interlocutors to identify themselves in the comment shared.
An A.I.D. for giving feedback
Added to the key characteristics mentioned above, feedback is more effective and better understood when structured around the three A.I.D. elements below:
- Action: Give an objective description of the situation for which you want to give feedback. Specific examples are welcome to make the matter clear.
- Impact: Describe the impact that this behavior had on you and your environment.
- Desire: Give a clear description of the desired behavior for the future.
Though it is recommended to share feedback in a timely manner, it is crucial to articulate it over three main steps: before, during and after.
- Before giving feedback, choose the right place and time. It will not only allow you to properly prepare your feedback using the A.I.D. tool mentioned above, but also to create a safe space that will ensure two-way communication between both yourself and the recipient of your feedback.
- While giving feedback, stick to what you have prepared, your observations as well as the examples you selected while preparing. Also keep in mind your body as well as your verbal language.
- After you have given feedback, give your interlocutor space to process and react on your observations. Maybe you misinterpreted a specific behavior due for instance to cultural, social, gender or generational differences. Or maybe the staffer already considered the path for growth that you shared but didn’t have the tools to act on it. In both cases, it is essential to focus on cooperation.
For both corrective or developmental feedback, it is essential to distinguish between serious performance issues and development needs – i.e. lacking skills that are crucial to the role versus nice-to-have skills that could be further developed. A follow-up step is thus necessary to assess how the staff member processed your suggestions. Depending on your observations, additional guidance or correction might be needed, praise and acknowledgment of the progress made might be welcome, or on the contrary, you might want to reconsider the staff member’s alignment and fit with the position.
In a nutshell, introducing proper feedback channels within your team and your organizations, both peer-to-peer, manager-to-staff and staff-to-manager, is a powerful way to build a team of committed professionals and to ensure that performance and cooperation objectives are being met at every level.
Over the years, Claire put her marketing and communication skills at the service of both non-profit and cultural organizations in Europe, Asia and South America. She also shaped and trained teams in both sectors. She now enthusiastically shares her experience with Han Valk Fundraising Consultancy as well as with our partners.
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