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Feedback System: Observation-Impact-Ask-Action

The debate about feedback at work is a popular topic in a modern workplace. And many questions arise as a result.

  1. How to get employees to improve?
  2. How to give feedback?
  3. When to give feedback?
  4. Is feedback that important?

Having attended emotional-intelligence training and read a few-too-many LinkedIn and HBR articles, I have come to the following opinion.

  1. Avoid giving negative feedback.
  2. Celebrate behaviours that led to success.
  3. Celebrate failures and lessons learned as much as success.
  4. Have conversations about observations, impacts, and asks.

1. Avoid giving negative feedback.

Here are some quote’s from recent HBR articles. I’m not saying you should never do it, but there is some compelling studies as to the ineffective nature of negative feedback.

Focusing people on their shortcomings doesn’t enable learning; it impairs it.

People who received criticism from peers looked for new relationships.

Negative feedback rarely leads to improvement.

HBR articles on Feedback

Harvard Business Review: Negative Feedback Rarely Leads to Improvement

Harvard Business Review: The Feedback Fallacy

2. Celebrate behaviours that led to success.

Success is repeatable through regular routines, and strong practices. It’s important to celebrate and improve the practices and routines that you’ve leveraged to attain success, or have observed others have leveraged to be successful. Examples: agile, lean-product, design-thinking. Celebrate the insights, the behaviours and the outcomes.

3. Celebrate failures and lessons learned as much as success.

Lessons learned, hypothesis, experimentation, measurement, and iteration. This is the lifeblood of a modern and thriving organization. Celebrating failures and lessons learned as much as successes establishes your organization with the right type of culture to pursue the “next”, and embrace future opportunity.

4. Have conversations about observations, impacts, and asks.

Lara Hogan has an article that I’ve seen referenced many times, called The Feedback Equation. I’m a fan and believer in this approach, given the conversational nature. In a nutshell, I make an ask with observations and impact data. The person whom I am making the ask too can determine to acknowledge, or further clarify my ask and together we can arrive at an action plan. I have never been entirely disregarded as I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing folks who have a learning mindset.

Feedback Flow by Andrew Kumar


Disclaimer:

Over time, my thoughts, lessons learned, and opinions change as I get access to new data, learn something new, or am persuaded by stronger logic.

As a result, the content you are viewing is in a constant state of revision with the aim of continuous improvement. Learn more about my kaizen knowledge system.

You can view the revision history of this content on Github.