Feedback Styles in High Performing Teams

What makes a high performing team? 
No doubt there are hundreds of academic studies, countless silver-bullet business models and as many different ideas as you can imagine.

So, no one big answer.

But let’s deal with just one of the key factors here.  Feedback.

In your own job role, how much feedback do you get?   Just try and quantify how many times someone has given you feedback in the last 7 days.

Now think again about that feedback.  Think about the quality of that feedback.  Was it just a “thanks, for your help” or was it something a bit more defined than that with some detail behind it?

Did the person giving the feedback tell you why they felt how they felt or why they wanted to share this particular feedback with you?

That’s the quantity and quality parts… now think about the content of the feedback.

Positive or negative? ... (because it’s very rarely neutral)

Are you personally more likely to remember positive or negative feedback? 

Are you personally more likely to give positive or negative feedback?

I’m second guessing here (because this is a written thing and not a conversation!), but I reckon that it’s the negative stuff which tends to stick in your mind, but you’d prefer to be giving the positive feedback to others.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

People get fixated by negative feedback.  Think of all the times you’d read online reviews for products or hotels or shows or whatever.   You might skim through dozens of positive ones looking for a negative one – as a sort of mental rebalancing act.  Why didn’t people like this?  What’s their barrier?  As if the knowing the negatives makes the positives more valid.  Maybe.

But all along, people would much rather deliver a positive message as feedback. We like giving good news to people.  That makes us feel good and is far preferable to the opposite.  Giving negative feedback means delivering a tricky message, having a difficult conversation, being bad cop.  That doesn’t sit comfortably with many people.

Let’s go back to the high performing teams question.

Did you know that studies have shown that the highest performing teams share more than 6 times the
amount of positive feedback with each other (compared to the average team)?  They’ll still share negative feedback too by the way, but the balance is very much a positive slant.

And conversely, among the lowest performing teams, they share twice as much negative feedback as other average teams.

It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t need to be.  Teams that are supportive of each others’ efforts are likely to be higher performing.  BUT… you still have to have a team culture which champions feedback of all sorts – good bad and ugly.

Creating that open exchange culture is the real challenge for any team wanting to deliver high performance.

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