Why I Love ‘Plus/Delta’ Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is an essential management skill that escapes most supervisors. 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, helpful, 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technique‘ – starting and ending with a positive comment and putting the negative comment in the middle – as lame, outdated and phony.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 or did something wrong, we need to provide specific feedback quickly that focuses more on avoiding that behavior in the future than on what caused it in the past.

That’s why I like the ‘Plus/Delta’ approach that a lot of my clients use successfully in their organizations:

  •  ‘Pluses’ are specific actions or behaviors 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 in action or behavior usually mean to start doing something or doing more of it or to stop doing something or doing less of it.

Granted, this process is easy to understand but can be difficult to practice effectively and consistently. But, you’ll all be more successful as managers if you try this specific feedback technique and keep working on it.

See how easy that was after all?

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