Seven Team Leadership Hacks Part 2

3.   The most valuable feedback is best delivered “in the moment”.

Most of us have been on the receiving end of corrective feedback. While any form of feedback is a gift, corrective feedback is always a touchy subject because it’s facing into a situation where things didn’t go as well as they could have. Imagine receiving that feedback at performance review time – often weeks or months after the event! Who does this scenario work for?

If you answered “nobody”, you’d be correct. It doesn’t work for the giver of feedback, because the receiver could well say “I don’t remember it that way”. Whether true or not, there is no “lesson learned” moment here. It also doesn’t work for the receiver, which is all the worse because if there was a genuine improvement point to be gleaned, the passage of time elapsed just smacks of a lost opportunity. Nobody gains from that.

Giving positive feedback is an easier proposition, but there are still a few things to note as a Team Leader. Firstly, making the time to deliver it fresh and “in the moment” as soon as possible after a good piece of work is very powerful. Describing the actual behaviour or action that resonated (“great eye contact”, “impressive research”) leaves the receiver in no doubt about what impressed. To round out, a short description of the impact of the behaviour or action (“Those data points really made them take note”) will leave the receiver in no doubt you were actively engaged as their Leader, and you took the time to comment about it. So many Team Leaders run off to their next meeting without doing this, or they forget about it. Make the time for positive feedback.

With corrective feedback, timeliness is equally critical. In my experience, delivery within the first 48 hours provides maximum effectiveness, to really describe the behaviour or actions accurately, and to explain the impact. When leading a team remotely, I was able to recount an interaction the following day and fully describe how certain behaviours had impacted a meeting. In this case I was able to describe what needed to change (condescending and aggressive tone), and then seek their solutions on how they might address that. From that point on, both parties were invested in ensuring there was no repeat. Putting that discussion off for even one week would not have been as impactful.

How did I know raising this was successful? The receiver of the feedback raised the incident at later 1:1 check-ins and we were able to openly discuss the strategies in play – effectively a joint project.

In summary, for quality feedback, remember it must be:


·Succinct and specific.


·Delivered Respectfully.

·Owned by the person delivering it.

4.   If you’re picking someone up on their performance, remember it’s your issue too.

Probably the hardest part of team leadership is letting a member of the team know that their performance isn’t hitting the mark. It’s a natural, human thing to shy away from these discussions and put them off, hoping the situation will get better. I mean, who enjoys delivering bad news?

It is an easy trap to fall into, even after you have summoned the courage to call a meeting to address sub-optimal performance, to “sugar coat” or talk around the message. This often serves to confuse the situation more, particularly if the person receiving the message is hearing it for the first time. (Sadly, this still happens far too much). Even if this is a first-time message for the receiver, a distilled, clear message about the current reality must be stated. This approach avoids ambiguity and sets a platform from which quality discussion and real change can be achieved.

In my experience, the more effective team leaders have shown courage in being completely clear when current realities are not meeting expectations. They are very good at creating context (“Why are we here?”) and painting the picture of the desired outcome – where there is something of value for everyone involved (improved business performance, higher quality conversations, as examples).

They are also totally authentic in taking responsibility for their part (an act or omission, for example) in ensuring they do everything within their power to achieve the desired outcome, independent of what the other person will or will not do. Here is the crux of the issue – the team leader appearing vulnerable, taking both risk and responsibility for something they haven’t done to help – yet. By taking the initiative, the team leader can go first in stating what they are prepared to do to help performance improve. This opens the door for a joint approach to improving the situation, where both parties can leave the meeting having signed up for actions that are achievable and time-bound, to review at the next meeting.

Naturally, if a “blind side” has occurred and emotions are high, it would be advisable to reconvene at a later stage and try the approach outlined again. The key check point in all of this should be, at all times, are we both carrying our weight in correcting the situation?


FOUNDER: Lewis Williams


MOBILE: 61 (0) 477 371 665


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