What Strictly teaches us about giving A-MA-ZING feedback (dah-ling)

As we wait in anticipation for the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final, it is the ideal time to set out what we can learn from the judges in how they offer feedback.

Giving feedback is something that many of us dread.  Perhaps we lack confidence in our expertise or maybe we anticipate that the individual will react badly.  Whatever the reason, we often shy away from giving feedback which actually has a negative impact on performance regardless of whether the observations are good or bad.

We know feedback is important for development and for me, I certainly know I want to receive it.  Good feedback gives me an important boost that keeps me motivated and driven whilst constructive feedback helps me to be the best I can be.

It is also fair to say that when we do give feedback, it doesn’t always land well and if you want to understand more about the responses people might have and how to deal with those, I recommend the work of Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen – Thanks for the Feedback: The Art & Science of Receiving Feedback Well (Even when it’s off-base, unfair, poorly delivered and, frankly, you’re not in the mood).  This can help if you offer feedback and the individual responds badly to what you are sharing with them.

However, what we have in Strictly is a masterclass in giving feedback.  If you watch carefully, you will hear the judges generally offering praise first. They recognise what went well and what has improved before honing on the next area of improvement. Generally, they make the individual feel a-ma-zing and then they offer some specific expert advice to help them progress.

On the occasions when things didn’t go well and they are unimpressed, they generally offer their feedback with care and compassion which allows the individual to feel supported whilst hearing something uncomfortable.

What can we learn from this when giving feedback in the workplace?

  1. Be positive – help the individual to see what was good and offer the feedback on what needs to be improved. Positive psychology says you need a balance of at least 3 positives to every negative so remember to share what’s going well before giving advice on improvement.

  2. Be specific – general statements don’t help the individual to understand and improve. E.g. ‘you didn’t get the role because you weren’t strategic enough’ – that is feedback that isn’t feedback. For this to be worthwhile, there needs to be detail that demonstrates what could have been different. To be effective, the sentence above needs to go on to give examples of what would have been better. Otherwise, the candidate is still in the dark and is likely to make the same mistakes next time.

  3. Be genuine – feedback is for the good of the individual so keep that in mind in the discussion. If you keep the individual at the heart and offer your feedback with sensitivity, compassion and with their best interests at heart, they should be able to open themselves up to whatever you have to say and feel glad that you are taking the care to offer it for them.

Do you have examples to share of good or bad feedback? What did you learn from this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

3minuteleadership.org

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