I frequently do Working Better Together / Team Building workshops for a variety of clients, mostly UN agencies and other social change-oriented organizations.
I typically survey the team ahead of time to see what their assets and gaps are.
One thing that consistently rises to the top of needs – both at the team level and the individual level – is learning how to give feedback. And in a way that is effective, feels genuine, and not like a thousand moths have suddenly occupied your gut.
Which is why I created the H.A.(n)D.S. technique, based on the work of Chip and Dan Heath in their wonderful book, the Power of Moments.
Ready for a complicated, difficult, hard-to-remember system to follow?
Here’s the easy, peasy version. I’ll explain each step and then give an example.
Heads up: As you’re going through the steps, take note of which one(s) feel comfortable and easy for you. And, here’s the key → pay attention to any that don’t as they’re the ones you’re likely to miss.
Let’s say, for this example, that your team member was late getting an important report in. Here’s an explanation of each step and how you could use each step to give feedback based on this example of the problematic late report.
High five to the H.A.(n)D.S. Feedback Technique
1. H – High Standards
- Giving feedback that makes sense and is actionable starts with setting the bar high.
- Feel free to reference your organization’s mission, vision, and values here.
- Make sure you do it in a way that feels genuine and set the stage for an expectation of high standards.
- Example: I know serving our clients the best way we can is really important to you and, in fact, it’s one of our company values.
2. A – Assurance
- Think of coming from your heart (your Heart Life Lens®).
- If I’m about to lose you here, know that this is a super important step – it will go a very long way in ensuring that the person can actually hear and take in what you’re saying because you’ll have massaged their amygdalas.
- At this point, you can focus on helping them feel confident, motivated, and generally okay about receiving your feedback.
- Example: I know you were upset about missing the report deadline and that it had consequences for our clients. But I also have faith that you can do better next time. I’ve got confidence in you.
3. D – Direction
- These are the nitty-gritty details about what you want to have happen – your, as specific as possible, directions.
- Now that you’ve set the stage by setting high standards and giving assurance, the critical piece of giving directions is much more likely to sink in.
- Example: I’m open to your suggestions of how we can prevent being late with a report again. Here are some ideas I have. How about we set up a timeline in advance with a soft deadline a week ahead of time with milestones along the way, so we give ourselves lots of time. What do you think?
4. S – Support
- While the assurance stage comes from the heart, this one comes from the head – think strategic support – like the Head Life Lens®.
- Support can include a bunch of different things all customized to your specific situation.
- Don’t forget to ask the person what they need as well.
- Example: Okay, so now that we have a plan, would you like to check in tomorrow in case either of us thinks of anything else? Oh, and that time management tool I talked about, I’ll make sure and email that to you.
Which step do you think is most commonly used?
We tend to skip straight to the nitty-gritty details, directing someone to what we want them to do.
The problem with this is we haven’t set the stage, so people are likely to:
- not be able to hear you
- be unable to understand what you’re talking about because there’s no context
- not be motivated to actually implement the feedback
- feel overwhelmed and not able to dig in
So high five to the H.A.(n)D.S. – by providing high standards, assurance (from the heart), direction, and support (from the head), your chances of giving feedback that actually resonates have just skyrocketed. Yeah, you!
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Share the post with a colleague.
- Giving (and receiving) feedback can feel like a thousand moths have invaded our stomachs and our throats. But it doesn’t have to be so overreactive, like these hugely dramatic, over-the-top pets.
- Try the steps now. Find that colleague you shared the post with and practice.
P.S. Let’s stay connected. Free weekly coaching by email on how to use humanity and humour to problem solve, right here.