How does feedback change based on the type that you’re giving?
Join Paddy who will explain how your feedback delivery should change based on the type of feedback that you’re giving.
Hi, I’m Paddy on the founder of the new leader and co-founder of an agency called error. I’ve worked in digital for about 15 years or so. And during that time, I’ve directly managed dozens of people from entry level interns right through to seniors and directors, helping people develop their careers and enjoy their jobs. It’s a favorite part of what I do.
It’s a reason I’ll get out of bed and the reason I run an agency when I think a team you’re to deliver feedback to them. And chances are, some of this feedback is going to be quite personal and sometimes quite difficult for them to hear. So you need to have a range of mental models and approaches that allow you to deliver feedback in a range of ways, depending on the situation. We’re going to talk through four approaches the shit sandwich, which is probably one you’ve already heard of before, spea 30% 9% feedback.
And finally, the Patty method. Let’s start with one of most basic approaches to delivering feedback. The shit sandwich the shit sandwich is when you have a conversation with someone where you deliver a good piece of feedback, then that’s a good piece of feedback and then finish on a positive piece of feedback. Hence, it’s called the shit sandwich because the bread is the good stuff.
And the shit is a hard here bit in the middle. Despite a terrible name, it can be used for approach for delivering feedback, but it does have some serious flaws which you need to be aware of. So you can use this approach in appropriate situations. An example situation to use this approach for is when you’re working with someone relatively junior, when they’re quite early on in their careers and haven’t received much negative feedback yet.
For them, accomplishing negative feedback with some positive feedback is likely to take the sting out of things. While you don’t want to tip toe around issues too much, mixing positive and negative feedback can help you ensure you don’t accidentally damage your confidence too much too early on in their careers. This type of feedback can also work with senior and more experienced people, too, as long as you’re open about what you’re doing, for example, open sign to them, they have some good feedback and some bad feedback. And being honest about how you’re going to mix things up a little bit.
The main problem with the sandwich method is that once you’ve used it a few times, the person you’re speaking to becomes very familiar with it. This means that when you start a conversation with some positive feedback, they’ll just be sitting there waiting for negative feedback because I know what’s coming next. Even after you’ve delivered the positive feedback, the negative and then follow up with positive again, the positive just won’t mean as much to them, because I know you’re just hanging on to the end of the conversation to help them feel better. I’m a firm believer that the shit sandwich is only appropriate verbally and should never be used for written feedback.
This is because the pattern is even easier to spot when it’s in written form, and people will often then just focus on negative and ignore the positive stuff around it. So overall, a shit sandwich is really useful in certain situations, but isn’t something you should rely on too much as your default. Next, Serbia. Serbia stands for situation, behavior, impact and ask this approach is most useful for day-to-day situations where you need to deliver feedback that is related to a very clear, very specific event that has passed.
It allows you to structure your feedback in a way that will give it context, help it make sense and be as well received as possible. This approach is designed to help avoid those situations. However, this type of feedback isn’t so useful as haka situations or feedback that’s a little bit abstract and can’t be referred to easily and clearly. One example of using this approach in your agency world would be when you’re giving feedback to one of your team members on a piece of work that they’ve delivered, but it isn’t quite up to standard or they’ve been part of a call or a meeting where I didn’t perform as well as you expected.
SBI works well here because you have a very tangible set of facts to reference and to use to structure your feedback and delivery. So let’s look at SBI in more detail, then talk through some examples of how you can use it. S stands for situation, and this is the way you described a situation that happened and be very specific about what happened, be censored behavior. This means that you described the behavior within this situation, what did you observe the individual do next?
I stands for impact. This is where you describe what you thought or felt during the situation. And finally, I stands for ask and this when you get the view on the situation and listen very carefully to that response. When combined, these steps allow you to structure your feedback.
Clearly as succinctly whilst ending by asking for the person to give their take on things and to continue the conversation. Let’s look at a few examples of situation, behavior, impact and ask during the project, you asked me to provide feedback on the audit the day before the deadline, which meant I had to push back over work to give you some quality feedback. Can you help me understand what has happened? Here’s another example at the meeting with the client you didn’t prepare detailed enough agenda, which meant we didn’t look as professionals, we should have.
Can you help me understand what has happened? So to recap, Serbia is already useful when you’re feeling back on something very specific and something quite recent as well. This could be a meeting. It could be a call that you had.
It could be a deliverable that someone’s worked on. We can reference those things very, very clearly and talk through them step by step. It’s really useful for making sure you structure feedback in a very, very useful way whilst ending on making sure someone can have the opportunity to talk about what happens and give their opinion as well. Next 30% and 9% feedback the 5% 9% feedback approach is when you explicitly give feedback when someone’s about 30% of the way through a task and then deliver some more feedback when you’re about 90% of the way for a task.
As a definition implies, this type of feedback is really useful. We need to give feedback to someone who is working on this very specific task or deliverable. The idea is it’s time to give them feedback when someone’s about a third of the way through the task, and you can catch any major issues very early and prevent them from becoming bigger issues later on. You can then deliver a bit more feedback when a task is nearly completed and use this to ensure the final piece of work is as good as possible.
30% feedback she’ll focus on catching early issues and to ensure the person is heading in the right direction. This might happen naturally, but it’s actually worth being explicit about doing this because it will help them focus on delivering the most useful feedback that you can. This means you should focus on directional changes, ensuring the person understands what good looks like if they keep going on this task in the way they currently are. Will they succeed?
Will they make the brief and will it be a good piece of work? Then the 90% feedback stage, you are simply looking for final refinements to make the work as good as it can be. Any feedback you deliver at this point should be as actionable as possible in the time remaining for that piece of work. Let’s go through a quick example.
If you’re feeling back on a specific piece of work, let’s say a strategy document. You could say something like the following start of the work give me a shout when you about an hour into this task and we’ll have a look at where you’ve got to so far. This allows you to catch any big issues early and give feedback at the 30% mark. Once you’ve done this, you can then ask for another check in later.
So you could say something like, let me know when all of the content and date is ready and I take a look before you tidy up and finalize a strategy. This lets you check in and deliver any final feedback before the work is finished. Finally, the planning method now I call it the planning method, not because I invented it. I’m sure I didn’t.
It’s been around for a long time and people have probably used it, but it’s actually one of the most useful techniques I’ve used over the years for delivering very complex feedback. So it’s most useful in situations when you have something particularly difficult to deliver and you need to think really carefully about what you want to do and how you want to say it. It’s also really useful if you feel a bit paralyzed by a situation and you want to actually think about the conversation in more detail and you feel like you have loads. That you want to say, but you struggle, in fact, you say so the method itself is this.
First, I pretend I’m writing the biggest am I ever to someone who needs to give it back to? Of course, and I’m going to hit send. But what I’ll do is say everything I need to say by writing it down and getting all out of my head and imagining I’m sending it to the person who needs to hear the feedback, and I’ll try and make sure I stay focused. I need to say to them.
It also helps to ensure that I haven’t missed anything because I can reread it. I can check my points and think about what I’m writing. And not feel pressure to get it right first time. Once I’ve done this, I read what I’ve written repeatedly until I say the key themes and topics emerge.
Sometimes I’ll even print this out, go for it with a highlighter or pen so I can easily spot the key points. After that, I wrote it into my notebook before the face to face chat. And highlight the key topics and the themes as headings in my notes. These are in discussion points.
I need to talk about. Now I don’t write down every single detail. I just need those prompts, notes, headings. So I know what the key points of the conversation are going to be.
But the prompts make sure I don’t forget anything important. I then have my notes with me and I’ll speak to the person face to face and make sure I can easily say the key points as I’ve written down as headings in my notebook. I’ll do a few minutes of preparation before the chat. Just refresh my memory, and it’s fine to refer to your notes during the chat if you need to as well.
The key point here is to distill down the key points as much as possible to a small probably just two or three main core themes that you discussed with someone. If you have a small number of key points to address, it’s far easier to keep track by doing the preparation, and you can ensure that you cover them. And don’t forget anything crucial.