It’s well understood through recent research that regular feedback is one of the best ways to: retain, develop, and improve the engagement of staff. Indeed, recent years have see several large multi-national corporations introduce formal feedback programs in lieu of annual performance reviews (which one found to contribute precisely $0 to bottom-line results).
One particular problem is that the very word ‘Feedback’ often strikes fear into our heart. It has a negative connotation because it’s often done horribly.
I met someone recently at a leadership conference who told me about a recent training session they’d had on giving feedback:
“There’s this great approach, where you point out something good, then something that needs to be improved, then something else good. I think they called it a ‘Feedback Sandwich’ “
You’ve probably come across the 'Feedback Sandwich' too. (it’s often given a ruder name!). It's horrible. I thought it had been consigned to the management dustbin aeons ago because there are significant problems with it.
The 'Feedback Sandwich' should have been consigned to Room 101 of management tools aeons ago.
Why? Consider these two examples:
Someone who’s been in a flat spin all day just waiting for the ‘feedback’ will not even hear the first bit (if they don’t ignore it as being patronising); and may focus so much on the filling that they never hear the final positive either. So they walk away flattened.
Some people only recall the final thing they heard, and walk out of your carefully-planned session having completely missed the ‘filling’ bit, and believing things are OK as they are, no changes required.
There are other models out there – a quick Google uncovers two others that are better: STAR/AR (Situation, Task, Action-past, Result-past/Action-future, Result-future). Or there’s the AID model (Action, Impact, Do). I used to teach yet another model as part of an ILM Coaching & Mentoring course, the ‘EECC’ model. I can’t recall what each letter stands for, even after several deliveries!
From 100’s of workshop participants, I know that the problems with most feedback include:
- It's personal
- It's vague - lacking concrete information
- The person delivering it has an agenda
- There's no room for discussion (often because there are no facts)
- It lacks direction - what could be changed or repeated
- It's third-hand
- It's a long time after the event
- and there's no follow-up.
So I came up with another, which addresses all the above concerns: The NICER™ feedback model. There isn’t space here to cover it in detail, but in essence it’s this: Noticed, Impact, Check & Change or Continue, Effect, and (this is unique, as far as I can tell) Review.
A simple example would be:
“I noticed that you were very quiet in the team meeting today, which meant that we didn’t hear your great ideas on x y z. Can I just check, is there anything wrong that I can help with… What would be good next time is to speak up – you have some great ideas which we need… The effect of doing that will be to accelerate our progress. Are you OK if we check in after next weeks meeting again?”
The beauty of this model, participants say, is that: it’s fast, you can deliver something meaningful and useful in just a few sentences if you’ve not got much time; its easy to remember; it covers the key areas; and it can be used to give as well as get. Overall, this has to be a nicer than a Feedback Sandwich.
The NICER(tm) feedback model enables you to deliver meaningful and useful feedback in just a few sentences.
I always love to get comments, so whether this has you excited or exasperated, please add them below.
 Gallup: 67% of employees whose manager focussed on their strengths are fully engaged in their work, while only 31% where the manager focuses on their weaknesses & IBM’s WorkTrends survey.