Take the "Feedback 5" Challenge

Warning. There's no turning back. Once this is on your radar, you'll be like two of my original foster puppies. You won't be able to look away.


5 words are routinely used to give feedback that are useless (at best) and destructive (at worst) without context and follow up. 

"They need to be more/less _______________."

More (or less) what? I'm glad you asked.

She needs to be more approachable, assertive, creative, collaborative, confident, engaged, independent, open-minded, present, sales-focused, strategic or technical. Or she needs to be less aggressive, conservative or negative. You get the point.

I don't know what someone really means when they say these things. 🤔And most of us are not great guessers.

Worse yet, the person on the receiving end of the "feedback 5" usually has zero idea what happened, how to fix it or when they'll have done "it" the right way, enough times, to change perception. 

The "Feedback 5" may be part of a reasonable observation, but shouldn't stand alone.

When used, two additional components are necessary:

  • Examples of the events (or behaviors) that triggered the feedback. Was this a single "event" or part of a pattern? One person's point of view or consistently voiced by different stakeholders? Important distinctions.
  • Examples of what will (or won't) be happening when someone has reached this "more/less than" promised land. This is the hard part because we're often not taking the time to process what we want...we just know that something needs to change.

What will she do to demonstrate she's gotten more technical? I ❤️this example because it comes up often and most companies don't have any way to assess technical knowledge. They just tell people to go off and fix themselves by "getting more technical."

How will we know when they've improved?

This isn't productive and often torturous for the person who wants to do good work but has no idea where to begin and no concept of what improving looks like.

My challenge for you? Pay attention over the next week for how often you or colleagues use or repeat phrases that include the "Feedback 5" instead of the "Feedback 5+" framework I've proposed.

Everyone in our industry needs to up-level skills in such a dynamic environment. We're hurting ourselves if we're not really helping each other.