Read Rob's views for Campaign on 'The Feedback Book' by Dawn Sillett - aimed at helping you develop the necessary skills to deliver effective feedback to your teams


The words "can I give you some feedback on that" all too often strike fear in the heart of the recipient, usually decoding the words as a euphemism for "let’s discuss something you’ve just got horribly wrong".

It can be tricky to be an effective manager, especially when you’ve had no formal training and learned on the job as you’ve progressed through the ranks

The Feedback Book promises 50 practical tips to help you develop the necessary skills required for creating an ongoing performance dialogue with your team by developing a simple, practical framework from which to operate.

The book aims to change the mindset of both the feedback giver and recipient to view feedback as a "gift" when delivered properly – as long as it is "considered, clear and actionable".

The advice given isn’t particularly ground-breaking and is possibly more suited to someone starting out as a manager. But the book serves as a good stake in the ground for assessing your own performance as a manager, particularly how you deliver feedback across all aspects of your job role.

It’s a quick and easy read and can certainly be dipped into depending on your time and interest levels for each section. I found the chapter on healthy eating and the importance of not feeding clever people stupid sandwiches particularly interesting.

At some point in our career, we have all been on the giving or receiving end of what author Dawn Sillett terms a "feedback sandwich" where something negative has been packaged up among layers of good stuff. Basic human nature usually drives us to lessen any potential hurt we might cause but Sillett argues this is confusing and ineffective.

The book attempts to balance behavioural psychology and practical examples to get the reader to understand the why, along with the how. It provides a number of exercises to try and ingrain the thought process in our minds – possibly too many for the time-strapped manager to realistically work through.

I did come away from reading the book with a couple of ideas of where I could improve my feedback process. However, I didn’t feel like I had a clear idea of how to translate the 50 clear tips into further training for my team. Perhaps fewer tips and an actionable summation at the end would have left me feeling more armed with the tools to put the book’s thoughts into action.

If you only have time for this … key points from the book

  • Feedback is about giving people an "edge" – explain using clear examples of the exact behaviour that prompted the feedback; describe the effect of that behaviour; give the recipient the mic to create a dialogue; end positively with your encouragement and your recipient’s commitment
  • Get the feedback balance right – make sure you praise more than you criticise
  • Feedback needs to be sincere – both negative and positive – and given at the right time in clear, concise and actionable formats
  • Don’t be shy in asking for feedback yourself – raise your self-awareness by asking for 360-degree feedback and devise an action plan to improve your performance
  • Get in the feedback habit – weave the opportunity for giving actionable feedback into your everyday role as a manager and build it into your company culture

To read Rob's original review along with other recent reviews for Campaign magazine, click here

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