Take a ‘Plus/Delta’ Approach to Feedback

In another LinkedIn discussion group, I responded to a question regarding effective feedback. Here’s a summary of my post for your reading pleasure:

Effective feedback should never hurt anyone’s feelings. Feedback is all about helping people get better at what they’re doing. Effective feedback is neither positive or negative – it’s just information. Information that is specific, observable, constructive, timely and focused.

Many of my clients consider the ‘sandwich’ technique – starting and ending with a positive comment and putting the negative comment in the middle – as lame, outdated and phony. Same goes for never saying anything negative without saying positive first.

If we’re providing performance feedback, it should be regular, focused and constructive. But, if someone made a mistake, we need to provide specific feedback quickly that focuses more on avoiding the mistake in the future than on what caused it in the past.

Try the ‘Plus/Delta’ approach a lot of my clients use successfully in their organizations. ‘Pluses’ are specific things that are working and adding value. The person should keep doing them and even do them more. ‘Deltas’ aren’t minuses or negatives, but changes that the person can make to get even better. Changes usually mean starting doing something or doing more of it or stopping doing something or doing less of it.

And I welcome constructive feedback on my comments about constructive feedback.