If you look at the insurance industry, one of the tools we need most is the ability to give feedback.

The type of work most of us are doing – be it broker, underwriter, claims, HR or compliance – will involve, at one time or another, giving and receiving feedback, both good and bad.  

Recent research found that only 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they get improves their work. Those numbers could be considered dismal. So what’s the issue with how most people give feedback?

Two Camps

People generally fall into one of two camps when they give feedback. These are: indirect and ‘soft’ or very direct. The former may result in the recipient not even realising that they are receiving feedback, which is ineffective, whereas the latter may tip the other person into defensiveness and make them feel threatened.

The Four-Part Formula

Research has shown a four-part formula to be an effective method of giving feedback. The first part is called the ‘micro yes’. Successful feedback givers begin their feedback by asking a short but important question. For example, “Do you have 5 minutes to talk about how that last meeting went?” or “I have some ideas for how we can improve things. Can I share them with you?” These types of questions do two things. Firstly, they let the other person know that feedback is about to be given. Secondly, they create a moment of ‘buy in’. The person can say ‘yes or no’ and so has a feeling of autonomy.

The second part of the feedback formula involves a data point. This should be specific about the situation and cut out any words that aren’t objective. These are often called ‘blur words’, which refers to a word that can mean different things to different people. Good feedback givers are able to successfully convert blur words into facts.

As the feedback giver, you should explain explicity how you have you have been impacted. For example, “Because I didn’t get the message, I was delayed in my work and the project couldn’t move forward”.

The next part of the feedback formula involves a question to wrap-up the feedback message. For example, “This is what I think should be done, but what are your thoughts?” This approach creates commitment rather than just agreement. It makes the conversation more of a collaborative problem-solving exercise.

The last thing great feedback givers do is ask for regular feedback. Research on leadership shows that you shouldn’t wait for feedback to be given to you. Instead, it’s best to actively ask for feedback. This establishes you as a continual learner and puts the power in your hands. Naturally, the most challenging situations are often the ones that call for particularly skillful feedback, but it doesn’t have to be hard. With practice, you can build resilience and techniques to tackle difficult conversations more easily.

Please contact our partners at Searchlight for tailored training offerings if you require assistance with difficult conversation training: https://www.searchlightsolutions.co.uk/