Just saw this article on feedback at HBR.  There are a couple issue I find with the article: (1) the use of the word criticism for negative feedback seems to be misguided, and (2) the article seem to suggest that there must be a balance of positive vs. negative, recommending a ratio of 5:1.  It seems that the key concerns the article raises are best addressed by understanding the DISC position of the recipient.  But you decide :-)


mattpalmer's picture

You've hit the nail on the head by identifying the most crucial problems with the article are the use of the words "praise" and "criticism".  That just sets people up for emotional reactions, both ways.  MT feedback is about *removing* the emotion of it, and making it all about a matter-of-fact imparting of information intended to make future behaviour more effective.

I *do* agree with the article that there should be a lot more positive than negative feedback -- I aim for 10:1 if I can -- but I do it because of fairness, not psychology.  To my mind, feedback should be a genuine sampling of the person's behaviours, and if someone isn't doing at *least* 10 times as many positive things as negative things, there's something very, very wrong.

I'm amused that the article gets about 90% of the way to the first step of the MT feedback model.  "One strategy for providing feedback is to start by literally saying, "Let me provide you with some feedback."".  Personally, I think saying exactly those words makes you sound like you've got a stick up your backside, but at least you'd be giving the person a moment prepare themselves.

Maybe in a few years we'll see an HBR blog article about the whole of the MT feedback model.  That would be a treat.

gpeden's picture

 I get comments every so often from peers and even my manager that the MT feedback delivery seems scripted or forced (aka 'a stick up your backside').

When I ask how they deliver feedback I usually get something like:  "I tell them they are doing good" or "I tell them they really screwed up and they need to do x,y,z".   Or "my people just know how they are doing".  

I just smile and say thanks and keep doing it the MT way.  I would rather be 'mechanical' and effective then 'polished' and ineffective any day.  And my directs tell me often that they really appreciate the MT model because it is clear what we are talking about and there is no drama.



DiSC 7511