What ‘Catchphrase’ teaches us about feedback

Sue Willcock Food for Thought Comments

One of the most popular chapters in my book is about giving feedback, so I’ve extracted some of the practical tips for you here.

Anyone who has worked with us knows I’m a fan of practical stuff that you can actually remember when under pressure so if you draw a blank in your next feedback conversation, just remember the words of the old Catchphrase game show host Roy Walker and ‘say what you see‘.   Do this without judgement or assumptions.

e.g. “I notice you are getting in later than you used to” or “I notice you looking out of the window a lot” or, for a positive piece of feedback “I’ve noticed your reports are more succinct and to the point”.

Some more pointers, to build on this, are below:

  • Feedback should be specific enough to give the other person an idea of how they can improve or where they have done well.
  • Focus on the observable behaviours. It really is a case of ‘say what you see’!
  • You may chose to add how it made you feel. This does not have to be soft and fluffy, if just makes the feedback more useful and enhances its worth – e.g. “When you look down, it makes me feel like you are not listening”. It may well be that the other person is listening, but it’s useful for them to know that by looking down, they give the impression that they are not.  A positive feedback example would be, “Your reports are shorter and to the point, which makes me feel you are understanding the client’s needs more than ever  before”.
  • You do not always have to tell them what to do differently – often observations are enough.

Finally, always consider you own positive intent of giving the feedback. Think and form in your own mind the outcome that you want before you start.

About the Author

Sue Willcock

I began my career as a Chartered Surveyor but, after moving into management roles that included a Partnership role at EC Harris LLP working with the then CEO, I realised that the thing I loved most about work was helping others develop. With this in mind, I set up Chaseville in 2009 to help individuals and teams develop and reach their full potential. As Director of Chaseville, I design and implement programmes for 12-250 people and support HR departments and CEOs with their people projects. I am based in Chester and work across the UK.

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