The Three “R’s” of Feedback

Giving feedback to redirect a person’s behavior is an essential professional skill, especially when we need improvement and change. But, feedback is often given poorly and can subsequentially be more damaging than helpful.

I have found that remembering the three “R’s” of feedback helps me to reel in my emotions, keep my eye on the prize, and deliver the feedback more successfully.

  • Real – Keep it real and factual. Start your feedback with an unemotional statement of the facts. It’s so easy for us to insert our opinion or emotions into the facts which keeps the receiver from hearing those facts but instead focusing on our disappointment, frustration, weariness, anger, etc.

For example, instead of “Sara, it’s so frustrating when you come to work late, and it makes everyone on edge at the meeting,” you would say,  “Sara, you were late for work today.”

  • Result – After stating the facts unemotionally, illuminate the result of those facts. Don’t assume the receiver knows this. Explain the impact that their behavior or choices made on the business, team, clients, or department. And remember, leaders go first. Always set the example for the tone you want your team members to use when they give feedback. Shift into neutral and adopt a professional, assertive (versus aggressive) tone.

For example: “Our morning meeting was interrupted when you arrived late, and subsequently this caused the entire meeting to run late. In turn, we seated our first patient 15 minutes behind schedule which resulted in the entire morning running over into lunch.”

  • Request – Say what you need in a straightforward, clear way and be direct in asking for their commitment to your request. Reduce their natural defensiveness by showing that you believe it was not their intention to produce the negative results and that you believe they are not only capable but also willing to make improvements. Be sure to connect these with the word “and” versus “but” or “however.”

For example, “I know that causing us to run late and some of the team to miss their lunch was not your intention, and I’m positive that you are completely capable of starting work on time. Moving forward, I need you to be standing in the break room no later than 7:45, ready for our morning meeting. Can I count on you to do that?”

Real, Result, Request. Remembering these will help separate your emotions from the task at hand which is always to deliver feedback in a way that allows your team to reach their full potential.

“The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.”

John Mayer

Leave a Comment