Align the Feedback Process to How People Learn

Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions” goes the adage. You know this well. You have always gone the extra mile to make your top talent into champion performers. Marcus Buckingham, the authority on motivation and Ashley Goodall of Cisco Systems offer practical tips on how to do this, in their article in the Harvard Business Review March-April 2019.

The article draws on two important cues on how people learn.

  1. Neurologically, we develop more in our areas of ability; i.e., we keep developing our strengths.
  2. Learning gets catalysed when others pay attention to our strengths. And, conversely, learning gets smothered when the focus is on our weaknesses.

And drawing from these cues and other relevant research, the authors provide a practical 3 step approach, to provide feedback as part of problem-solving.

When your team member approaches you with a problem,

Begin with the Present: Don’t discuss the problem. Instead, ask “What are the three things that are going well for you right now?”. Recalling what is going well, will make him or her optimistic and open to learning.

Go backwards to the past: Ask “When you had a similar problem in the past, what did you do that worked?”. Reflecting on own past learning will restore the “can do” mindset.

Shift to the future: Now ask, “What are the actions you believe, you need to take and are likely to work in this situation?’. Offer a few suggestions from your side as well.

Your team member would be fully primed to get going with confidence and optimism. More significant, he or she would have learnt to learn.

Do tell us what you think.

– by Ravi Santhanam for ZEUS

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