I was once speaking to a few aspiring leaders during a session on Everything DiSC Work Of Leaders, about the challenges they face in their respective job roles. Being from different functional areas, they all had a variety of issues and different ways of addressing them. The one headache that was common, and to which none of them had a clear solution, was on handling feedback.
Is there a scientific way of giving feedback? Since feedback is being given to individuals who are naturally different, does the “one type fits all” approach work?
If so, then can the same method be used to give positive and negative feedback, or should the approach be different for each?
As I tried to answer each of these questions, one thing I realised is that there is no ideal feedback method and for the same reason it cannot be mass customised. Rather, it would be ideal to construct the message contextually or situationally. DiSC helps the manager understand an individual’s natural and adaptable behavioral styles with respect to their workplace , situations and environments. Thus DiSC personality tests can be the starting point of feedback design.
A good feedback system will bridge the gap between the “am” and “should”. The flip side of feedback is the resistance that the individual shows to take corrective action. Feedback that is goal driven would be viewed by the employee as an incentive to improve, and not as a criticism. If an employee is assessed using globally accepted tools like DiSC these gaps can be bridged. This gives the individual the impression of objectivity which is vital for acceptance feedback of any kind.
Feedback should inspire the employee to listen, to think and to act. Feedback should never be what the employee wants to hear. Rather it should be what he needs to listen. It is then that the feedback becomes meaningful, contributes to improvement and leads to success. Employee engagement is strongly linked to employee perception as to how honest and practical the feedback was. What better tool than Everything DiSC, whose assessments have been built over an experience spanning 4 decades.
If you ask me about professional situations which have made me uncomfortable, without batting an eyelid I would say – appraisal. That would include the ones where I’ve had to give or take performance appraisals. Formal performance appraisal sessions are the worst places to give feedback, especially if it is negative. The situation is rapt with stress and tension and half of what is spoken goes unnoticed.
There is no reason to wait for annual appraisal to give feedback. Nobody would want to wait for a whole year to get appreciation and recognition. Mistakes that are pointed out months after they have been committed need not be taken seriously. Incorporating ongoing feedback into your daily routine is like using a GPS system instead of a map. The GPS, unlike the map provides directions contextually and makes the journey simpler and more effective. DiSC assessments if shared with managers , can help them provide valid ongoing feedback.
It is important to be sensitive to the employee’s feelings when you handle appraisals or give feedback. It is impossible to predict how a person would react to feedback and in spite of taking utmost caution there may be moments where employees react- even quit jobs because they confuse feedback for criticism. The only way to tackle this is to be as transparent and objective as possible. What can be more objective than DiSC which is built on the original work of William Moulton Marston and has evolved into its 3rd generation, the Everything DiSC model.