Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

The Most Effective 4-Step Feedback System for Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Use this feedback system with your teams and clients, and watch your productivity soar.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The life of a business leader or entrepreneur is akin to running an obstacle course in the middle of an earthquake and a tornado all at once. To say that there is huge uncertainty, risk and an ever-changing landscape, would seem like an understatement.

With such uncertainty, it can be challenging to offer consistency in production and customer experience, which can lead to a weaker brand presence and fluctuating revenue. While technology has integrated long-term data analysis into business systems, from email open rates, to time spent on webpages and advertising performance through conversion ratios, there is an amazing four-step feedback process that we use in our business and with our clients that increases performance and speed to scale.

Utilize this system, which is effective in a wide variety of industries and business types.  If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, we suggest using this process with your board or executive teams on a regular basis — monthly and every 90 days — to assess and improve business financial performance.  If you are a lead manager or in a senior position, use it to assess and improve team productivity and morale. 

1. What worked

Whether you are huddling to kickoff the drive to meet the week’s targets or you are planning to respond to recent news or events, it is critical to take immediate note of what worked.  

Over the past 20 years of observing and coaching high-achievers in human behavior and performance enhancement, it is strange how common it is that people skip this step of thinking first about what went well and contributed to the upside.

It can be painful to hear someone come off stage from a TED talk and immediately state what they felt they missed or wished they did. We’re talking about what is being said behind closed doors, too, and not a mask of humility shown to the public.

Make it a focus to first ask, or share with others, what went well? What worked? What was well received? Remember to celebrate all wins. Doing so helps to instill a habit in your neurology through your Reticular Activiating System — the part of your brain that picks up detail based on what you are focusing on.

Related: 'The Alignment Factor': Focus for Success

2.What didn’t work

Now it’s time to capture all of the things that didn’t work, so those things can be stopped and left in the past. Over the years of facilitating this type of feedback process, people have referred to me as having the gift of ruthless compassion, and this is what’s absolutely necessary here. 

If we take a soft approach or avoid critical feedback altogether ,we can do more harm than good in the long run. Reflect within for a moment, and consider whether you would want to know if you were doing something that put off your audience or something that demotivated your teams.  

If you are committed to mastery or achieving high performance, which is probably the case as a reader of this publication, then I’m sure you’ve said to yourself that you would want to be told or to know what you could stop doing that was hurting your overall outcomes.

This step is made easier by coming after the previous step of capturing and speaking about what was positive. Neurologically, this balances the scales and allows for a deeper and more specific dive into both areas. It creates a safer space for your employees or teams to nurture confidence while also knowing that they can make mistakes along the way to success. 

Related: 6 Steps to Offering Tough Feedback, and Why It's a Crucial Skill for Every Leader

3. What could be done differently — correctively & creatively

After exploring the polar opposites of the previous steps, you can now move forward with applying what was revealed and learned for future performances. It is extremely important to note that many people will ask “what could be done better?” However, this is impossible to know before actually implementing a new approach and then assessing it with this feedback system. 

It also adds to the safe space to ask about what could be different, and it aids both parts of this step: a) corrective and b) creative.

4a. What could be done differently — corrective

In this step, you will capture all of the things that you missed or were unclear/ineffective. You’ll look at what you intended to do, but didn’t.

The neuroscience behind this is like a mental rehearsal/visualization of success in the future.  This process will create neurological connections that must be present in order for you to perform the way you are discussing. 

Related: Why You Should Go Searching for Brutally Negative Feedback

4b. What could be done differently — creative

The next step is to capture all of the expanded possibilities or ideas around what could be added or woven in next time. 

The neuroscience behind this step is that it activates the function of the brain where critical thinking and imagination intersect, improving the relationship between hemispheres of the brain. This leads to more integration of the logical and creative aspects of the mind, which, when working together, has been found to be the most effective contributor to success. 

Related: How a Diverse Team Brings More Creativity and Engagement to Your Business

So, when you next huddle up with your team or prepare for your next board meeting, take this four-part feedback system with you in order to not only offer the best feedback to your peers, but to also guide them through using it to get the learning from the past and drive a continually improving future.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks