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  • Reda Othman

The Science of Providing Feedback that Enhances Productivity




In the dynamic world of educational leadership, understanding the nuanced art of giving feedback is key to unlocking the potential of your team. Feedback is an everyday phenomenon, varying from formal to informal, direct to indirect, and everything in between. However, a crucial insight often overlooked is the power dynamic in feedback scenarios: the receiver holds the power, choosing whether to act on the feedback given. This reality underscores the importance of crafting feedback that motivates employees to engage and improve.

The First Secret of Change: Love Your Employees

Before diving into the mechanics of feedback, let's embrace a foundational principle highlighted by Fullan (2011) in his exploration of the secrets of change: "Love your employees." This principle emphasizes the importance of fostering an environment where employees feel valued, can continuously learn, and find meaningful engagement in their work. Effective feedback is a critical tool in achieving this, as it directly contributes to employee satisfaction and retention. Reflecting on the education sector, McKinsey & Company underscore that the quality of an education system cannot surpass the quality of its teachers, highlighting the pivotal role of supportive leadership.

Navigating Feedback Triggers

Understanding the potential triggers in feedback scenarios is crucial. Stone and Heen (2014) identify three primary triggers:

  • Truth Trigger: Disputes over the accuracy of feedback.

  • Relationship Trigger: Feedback is influenced by the relationship between the giver and receiver.

  • Identity Trigger: Feedback affects the receiver's sense of self.

Recognizing these triggers is the first step in engaging in constructive conversations that lead to growth.

Types of Feedback and Their Implementation

There are three essential types of feedback, each serving a distinct purpose:

  • Appreciation: Acknowledges efforts and motivates further engagement.

  • Coaching: Aims to enhance skills and capabilities.

  • Evaluation: Assesses performance against specific standards.

Successful leaders understand the importance of balancing these feedback types to meet their team's needs.

Implementing Effective Feedback

To provide feedback that resonates and leads to action, leaders must first identify the type of feedback needed and then navigate its potential pitfalls.

  • For Appreciation: Be specific. Instead of a vague "You're doing great," detail what exactly was done well, such as, "Your innovative lesson plans have significantly increased student engagement in class."

  • For Coaching: This should be a discovery process. Instead of simply assigning tasks, ask questions to unearth an employee's skills and aspirations, connecting them with tasks that they are naturally inclined to excel at.

  • For Evaluation: Offer constructive feedback with clear examples. Highlight specific areas for improvement and discuss actionable steps the employee can take to enhance their performance.

By embracing the principles of loving your employees, recognizing feedback triggers, and skillfully applying the three types of feedback, educational leaders can inspire their teams to achieve higher productivity and fulfillment in their roles. Remember, the goal of feedback is not just to inform but to transform.



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