Offering feedback

Feedback - an almost daily activity, and yet a delicate one! To say certain things, but not others, to choose your words, the tone, the moment... A skill that we can continually improve our entire lives by observing the effects we produce, but which also operates according to some simple rules.
Pay as much attention to what is good, as to what isn't
Noticing problems and errors and pointing them out spontaneously generally requires little effort. Focusing on the qualities of an action or attitude, or observing the process by which things function smoothly, requires on the other hand a less natural kind of attention. However without this panoramic attention, which aims at seeing objectively, no constructive feedback is possible!
Still, be wary: it is not a matter of offering a compliment in order to prepare the way for a reproach. It is rather to be engaged with each point, really and for its own sake, whether it be positive or negative.       
Abolish criticism
A reproach ("you don't...", "you can't...", "you're too...") often produces the reverse effect of that intended: it's antagonizing, puts your co-worker on the defensive and diminishes the motivation to change. It is better to replace it with a clear demand, which gains in legitimacy by projecting toward the future rather than complaining about the past. Of course, the demand may be based upon a situation which is demonstrably unsatisfactory, but when expressed from the angle of "doing better in the future", it takes on a different meaning.       
Remember why
Charged with multiple tasks, with emergencies to handle, we sometimes forget the "why" of our actions. Constructive feedback resituates our accomplishments in their context, evokes or redefines the direction, the meaning: Why do we do this? What do we expect from it? What would happen if... ?       
Each question has only one correct response, but be careful: among the possible responses there is one that is "almost correct" and might make the choice harder!
1 / 3   Regrets?
You realize that Luce, who has been telecommuting for 2 months, is not happy and seems to regret her choice. What do you do?

Do nothing for now. She needs time to get used to it.
The situation may risk getting worse. It's better to raise the subject with her.
You ask her discreetly: "How are things going for you these days?"
Inviting an exchange is a good idea but the question could be posed more directly.
You ask her: "You've been telecommuting for 2 months now, what has your experience of this new mode of working been?"
Yes, you open the discussion and if Luce confirms that this choice is not right for her, you'll plan to end her telecommuting. It will not be a failure but rather an experiment which was useful to try.
2 / 3   Unreachable
Several times over the past week Sylvie, who is telecommuting and should be reachable, did not respond to calls. What do you do?
Do nothing for now. You don't want her to feel that she's being policed.
This is risky, because you're allowing a non-respect of work requirements to develop.

You raise the question: "Three times last week, I was unable to reach you while you were telecommuting. I'd like us to review together the parameters for working remotely and how you organize your work."
Yes, your formulate a factual observation, and orient the discussion around expectations and Sylvie's organization.
You seek understanding: "Three times last week, I was unable to reach you while you were telecommuting. What were the reasons?"
This question invites self-justification. It would be better to being by reviewing expectations and then to listen to Sylvie's explanations, if she offers them. Still, the question of "why" should be asked once the observation is made, to bring rapidly to light possible difficulties.
You remind her of the rules: "You are supposed to be reachable while you are telecommuting, but this hasn't been the case."
A bit abrupt. Describing a factual observation would be a first step to lead Sylvie to make progress.
3 / 3   Time requirements
Since Virgile has been telecommuting, he's had more trouble meeting his deadlines. How do you bring up this subject with him?
Since you've been telecommuting, your projects have been falling behind... Could you get yourself back on track quickly?
The remark is imprecise, the request rather vague. And Virgile may feel accused of not working hard enough.
I would like for us to look together at how to change your way of working. You need to be more efficient, even while telecommuting. Are you ready to make an effort?
The demand is not very clear. Making effort is not an expected result.
I have observed these past weeks that you have gone over the deadline on several tasks. Is this also your observation?
The question allows Virgile to take a position and to make, if necessary, a connection with telecommuting. If this link is not made, you will ask him some questions on this subject.
Your score is
You finished!
To review the questions and responses, please choose from the list below.