PACE Your Way to Giving Effective Feedback

When we run leadership or advanced communications workshops for our corporate clients we are repeatedly asked how to give effective performance feedback to staff.

Our participants tell us that the majority of their difficulties seem to stem from not wanting to offend the receiver of the feedback, with a strong dose of political correctness thrown in to confuse them even more.

Honest sincere, well timed and well delivered feedback can be one of the most useful leadership tools in our kit bag – So what makes it so difficult to do?

In this article we look at feedback in terms of correcting behaviours. However the same steps apply when reinforcing great behaviours as well.

Effective leaders take time to get to know their staff so they know the language which will be most impactful for each individual. (If you don’t know what this means contact us separately). However a rule of thumb for new leaders is to give feedback as soon as possible after a significant event.

We use the Acronym PACE to remind us of the steps to effective feedback.

Prepare for the feedback – fools rush in but wise leaders prepare.
What is your Intention in giving the feedback? To praise, to reinforce or to correct a behaviour?
How do you want the receiver to FEEL afterwards – Devastated? Encouraged? Chastened? Proud? Hopeful?
What is the best environment to give the feedback without other s overhearing? What facts do you have?
What organisation values are you reinforcing?
What are the precise circumstances?
What is the behaviour in question?
Are you coming from a position of personal opinion or evidence based behaviours?
Can you describe what is appropriate vs. in-appropriate?
Clearly identify primary and secondary issues, get as much information as possible and, if needed, canvas others to get clarity and a different perspective on what is going on.

Advocate – Tell the receiver of the feedback what was observed, or what your data position is. Keep strictly to the issues at hand without personal bias or opinion. Be clear and careful to keep only to observed behaviours or data. Opinions have no place here.

Conclude – Give the receiver your preliminary conclusion based on the data and facts.

Enquire – Ask for clarification on your observations / conclusions and invite a response, keeping clearly and squarely to the issue.

At this point you will have let the staff member know where you (the organisations leadership representative) stand in respect to their behaviour and you have opened the door to invite their input to provide more data, and a different viewpoint.

Whilst many leaders get to this stage easily the focus is now to keep to the issues at hand and to keep the staff member in a receptive frame of mind. Defensiveness can creep (rush) in at this point.

Where the feedback is of the “behaviour correcting” type, then it is crucial to stay detached from the staff member’s emotions.

An example.
You ordered a piece of software from the internal IT Support person, John, and it has turned up late.
Your interview with John may go along the lines of -:

Prepare – You invite John to your office. You turn off your mobile, close the door and take the internal phone off the hook – you won’t be disturbed. (John just got the message that you are about to have a serious conversation.)

Advocate
“John I ordered an upgrade from you on Monday, you promised it to me on Wednesday, and we are now 7 days behind schedule without you letting me know what is going on”

Conclude
“This leads me to believe that you are not on top of what is happening in your area and that your feedback to internal clients is lacking”

Enquire
“John, Can you shed some light on what is going on with the software delivery and also how you approached your internal management and communication of this situation?”

In this example there are two issues; 1. The software is late and 2. John’s internal client service is below expectations.

The feedback covers both of these issues and John is aware that he is expected to keep his clients up to date with what is happening.

The response from John can take this conversation in many directions. The supplier may have delayed. There could be a postage strike etc etc. He may not be experienced in client service so he may not be aware he had to keep you up to date. He may be totally in ignorance of your expectations – in this case the mature leader will look at how he/she sets expectations with staff – this is valuable feedback from John!

This approach allows John to have a mature conversation with his manager around the performance expectations of his role.

The next step is to set ongoing actions and expectations – we will cover this in our next eNews.

As with any new tool or skill the best way to learn is to practice. Go ahead and let us know how you got on.

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