How to Facilitate Feedback: Focusing on Improvement – Not Weaknesses

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Sections of this topic

    Rated Feedback Process

    Getting feedback on a facilitation process is an important part of ongoing learning, development and application for facilitators. However, people are often reluctant to give critical feedback. And, sometimes, when feedback is given, it isn’t clear whether the feedback is the view of one individual or the entire team. The rated feedback process is a vehicle to help ensure you get quality comments and that you understand the amount of support for those comments.

    In the rated feedback process, you ask the group to identify strengths first, being sure to get everyone involved. You then ask the group to identify ways to improve. Note that you do not ask for weaknesses. Instead, you ask for specific ways the session could have been improved. The “ways to improve” terminology serves to keep the discussion constructive using the “Here is what I liked – here is how to make it better” format. In addition, by identifying strengths first, people who are reluctant to criticize tend to be more open to indicating ways to improve.

    Once you have identified ways to improve, go back and ask for a show of hands of those who agree with the improvement suggestion. In this way, you get critical feedback, along with ratings indicating the level of support for each feedback suggestion.

    EXAMPLE: The table below outlines steps for a sample scenario (a process improvement team facilitating a session on improving their existing hiring process). The team is on the last agenda item – “Review and Close.” They have reviewed the actions that occurred in the process as well as all decisions, issues and actions. They are now ready for detailed feedback on the session itself.

    Technique

    Rated Feedback

    Function: Feedback
    1. Describe the activity and purpose. (Note that you may have already done this through the checkpoint.)

    • “We are nearing completion of the entire agenda. The last thing on our list is to evaluate the session, so we can identify what went well and what improvements can be made so the organization can benefit from the process learning we have gained.”

    2. Use PeDeQs to describe the general directions.

    • “The way I would like to do this is, we will first identify strengths – the things that we felt went well. We will then talk about ways that the session could have been improved. Finally we will look back at those session improvement suggestions and identify the ones that have strong support for implementing.”

    3. Start with strengths. Ask a starting question and use a round-robin technique to include everyone. Check mark similar comments.

    • “Let’s start with strengths. I would like to go around the room starting with Jamie. I would like each person to identify one thing they liked about the process and the way we worked. If someone has already said the thing you like, feel free to say “Ditto No. 1,” and I’ll put a check mark there to indicate another person agreed with the comment. Jamie, get me started. Think about the entire process, starting on day one when we did gifts and hooks, and all the activities we did from documenting the current steps, talking about problems, potential solutions, priorities and our implementation plan. Think about things you liked about the process, the things that went well. Let’s build the list. Jamie, get me started. What did you like about the process? What went well?”

    4. Move onto ways to improve. Instead of a round-robin, have participants randomly indicate suggestions.

    • “We’ve talked about strengths. Let’s move on to ways to improve. I would like to open it up. We do not have to go in any order. During this process, there were probably things that you said, “Well, I wish we had done that differently.” Or, “That certainly did not go very well.” There may have been other improvement suggestions you thought about as well. If we had a chance to do this all over again, what would you do differently? What would you suggest to the team that we do differently that would have made the process even better? Who wants to go first?”

    5. Go back and review each improvement suggestion and ask for a show of hands for the number of people who support each. If it is a small group you might count the individual hands. If it is a larger group, it might be faster to estimate the percentage that agree.

    • “Let’s go back now over each improvement suggestion. I would like to get a rough indication of the level of support for each one. As I read each suggestion, please raise your hand if you agree with that suggestion. The first one says…how many people agree that this suggestion would have improved the session? That looks like about 80 percent. Let’s move onto the next…”

    Curious about terms like “PeDeQs” and the “starting question”? Please review my previous blog entries or sign up for The Effective Facilitator, where this information plus more is taught in depth.

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    Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company and author of the new The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States.