Unpack the Feedback
A lot occurred in the above scenario. Let’'s break it down.
1. Ensure that there is no embarrassment.
First, it was private. Lauren took Jimmy aside. She could have done this in a group of people, but she didn’t want to embarrass him. She assumed he was doing the best job he could. That assumption led her to believe that he was rushing through his work rather than leaving things to the last minute. Since her assumption was a generous interpretation, she decided Jimmy needed a private conversation.
Because feedback often requires privacy, it can be hard to pull off in the team room. However, two people can often find a quiet corner, move into a hallway, take a walk, or find an empty conference room. One of our favorites is a coffee shop, because no one around you has any interest in what you're talking about. The key is to find a neutral location so the two people have a place to discuss the issue. Do not try to talk about the conversation in the team room, where the buzz is too loud—or, worse, where the buzz might stop just as you start giving feedback and the feedback will be out in the open. Find a private place for feedback.
2. Focus on the data.
Lauren provided Jimmy data. Lauren did not label Jimmy. Lauren did not use the word "always" or "never" or "everyone." She provided data and explained how his actions affected her directly. She did not speak for other people.
3. Explain how you are affected, using "I" language.
Feedback is most effective when you explain how you are personally affected. It's least effective when you try to intervene on someone else's behalf. Lauren said, "When the build breaks, it affects me as a developer manager because I can't build." If she had said, “The developers can't build," that would have been weaker. She was speaking from first-hand experience.