Today’s churches are so metric, goal, and results focused in the evaluation of staff and volunteer performance that giving, receiving, and soliciting valuable feedback has become a lost art. Yet, study after study shows that learning is highly dependent upon proper feedback.
So, what is the most effective method of providing feedback that is both constructive and actionable? I have found feedback that highlights strengths and opportunities rather than critiques weaknesses and failures is a far more impactful feedback strategy. A strengths based approach may appear to minimize the seriousness of shortcomings, but focusing on positive qualities and results as a means for pointing out untapped potential can lead to the discovery of new opportunity. When church staff and volunteers become aware of their strengths and the potential they offer, they are much more likely to use them to overcome challenges and pursue new opportunity.
How To Use A Strengths Based Approach To Constructive Feedback
I want to emphasize that a strengths based approach to constructive feedback is not simply a way to put a positive spin on a problem or poor performance. But, by first focusing on strengths, we can suggest ways to use those strengths to solve the problem or improve the performance.
When using this approach I try to discipline myself to identify at least three observable strengths and one potential opportunity for growth or improvement. The trick is to use the assessment of the strengths to make a suggestion on how the individual might address the specific opportunity or challenge.
Example of providing strengths based feedback for a presentation:
- You used illustrations that captured my interest.
- You told stories that I related to.
- You provided practical action steps that connected with your illustrations and stories.
Opportunity For Growth:
- I struggled to listen to you and keep up with your slides. I found myself missing some of what you were saying while I tried to read your slides. You might want to experiment using fewer words per slide, or fewer slides. What you have to say is too valuable to miss.
Example of providing strengths based feedback for a program or event:
- You added several new creative elements to this year’s event that appeared to be well received.
- The way you used signing up for a give-a-way as a means for gathering contact information from guests was innovative and helped identify more prospects than ever before.
- The manner in which you deployed your volunteers was masterful and contributed to a glitch free event.
Opportunity For Growth:
- It appeared the turnout was low for the time and effort you put into this event. I saw only a notice in the bulletin and on the church website. Next year you might want to consider spending more time designing a creative and comprehensive communications strategy that involves more than one or two communication channels. This event is so powerful we need to do everything we can to get the word out.
Posted on December 11, 2018