Betina Rama, DVM, EMCCC, Dipl. Clin. Org. Psych.
Giving feedback to our colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors in the vet clinic is a key skill to improve individual and team effectiveness as it allows people to understand what they do right and what they need to do better.
People will not get great at their job unless you do a great job giving them feedback.
Feedback is a kind of ongoing communication that helps people know, whether their behaviour and job performance are getting the desired results and whether they are "on target" to achieve their goals.
Should be taken as a gift
Is a two-way communication - Get feedback on your feedback
Feedback should be handled with extreme care and it is important to always follow the advice of Queen Victoria: "Praise in public, punish in private."
There are different types of feedback:
Reward & recognition ('Praise')
Performance improving feedback (constructive criticism)
Giving effective feedback is a fundamental task of a manager to allow people to know where they are regarding performance and also it can be part of the coaching process.
Sloan Wietzel, from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) (www.ccl.org) has developed a three-step process for effective feedback called the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) model.
It has been proven through the years that this process provides a structure that helps keep the feedback you provide focused and relevant, and increases the likelihood it will be received in a clear, non-defensive manner by the recipient.
This technique of giving feedback is simple and contains three elements:
The situation anchors feedback in time, place, and circumstances and helps receiver remember and/or understand the context.
The behaviour refers to observable actions, what you saw and heard the person doing or saying. This allows the feedback receiver to know exactly what he or she did that had an impact. It has to be factual, concrete and specific. What you actually see them doing (or not doing) or what you actually heard the person saying (or not saying).
The impact refers to what results occurred from what the person did (or did not do) or said (or did not say).
Once you gather data for the SBI feedback, here is how you might express it:
"Peter, this morning when you came to the examining room when I was with Spot, Mrs. Brown´s Springer Spaniel...
...you greeted her with a smile, and also petted Spot. Before taking the blood sample you explained the procedure to her. Then, you spoke softly to Spot, and you found the vein at the first try, in less than 30 seconds...
This made me feel very confident and glad to see how your technique improved since you came to work here a month ago. Mrs. Brown also said that she was very happy because Spot did not suffer.
I am very happy to count on you in the clinic for these procedures.
Other example of SBI feedback
"This morning when we had the staff meeting (situation) you opened the door at 9:20 and entered the room without a word (behaviour) when Peter was explaining the new procedure for hospitalised patients. I was puzzled (impact) because I expected you to be on time and to greet/apologize when you entered the room. I observed that Peter stopped talking and it took him some seconds to get back to where he was before (impact on others). What do you think about this? (invitation for dialogue and future action step).
Practice makes perfect: think of an opportunity to provide feedback to somebody in the clinic and use the model below to prepare for your SBI.
Giving feedback/recognition is an important task of a coach, manager, and leader
Feedback/recognition should be specific and related to the performance, not to the person
Provide feedback to high performers and "backstage people"
In doubt, recognize additional people
Better to provide a feedback which is quick, simple, and often than a feedback which is elaborated and sporadic
Recognition is 100% positive. If possible, do not mix positive feedback with developmental feedback.
Feedback for development should be done in private
Feedback is a double-way communication. How good are you at communicating what you want? Ask for feedback from your feedback.
A 15-Minutes Feedback Game to Do with Your Team in the Clinic
Make copies of the following questions below and provide them to the members of the clinic. Allow 15 minutes so that a person can write down the feedback for at least 3 colleagues. The person who wrote the feedback gives the paper to the people s/he wrote about. Encourage to thank for the gift of the feedback. No need to share publicly.
Name of the person you want to give feedback to:
What skills do you think s/he adds to the team?
What could s/he do to be more effective?
What else do you think this person needs to do to make the clinic more successful?
Asking for Feedback
As feedback is essential for our professional development, we need to learn to ask for it and accept it as a gift. It is a gift that people give us, as it helps us identify and develop the skills we need to be more effective and grow in our career.
Asking for feedback can be a scary thing, particularly if we fear that it might not be 100% positive.
But if we would only receive positive feedback, what would that mean to you?
In order to create a culture of feedback in the clinic, it is fundamental to ask for feedback, thank for the feedback and do something with it.
If people give feedback and they are punished for doing so, be sure that they will not dare to give feedback again.
The Stop-Keep doing-Start method of asking for feedback is simple: Just ask the following questions to some key people in the clinic:
What should I stop doing?
What should I keep doing?
What should I start doing?
Their answers will give you practical data to use in your personal development action plan.
Plan to give and receive feedback in a way that is sustainable for you.
Is it once a week a realistic goal for you to spend 15 minutes with one of your colleagues and provide-receive feedback?
Creating a feedback culture takes time and practice, but the benefits for development and growth are worth the effort.