News & Events

Guest Speaker Series: Julie Hamilton on Leadership Feedback

July 5, 2021
UBC MEL MHLP - Guest Speaker 2021 - Julie Hamilton

On June 8, Julie Hamilton, a Strategic Planning Consultant, presented to the MEL and MHLP cohort. Hamilton’s presentation focused on the main tools necessary to be effective with feedback, as the ability to productively produce feedback is essential for future leaders to build strong and effective teams.

Julie Hamilton is an organizational development consultant and facilitator with twenty-five years of international experience in leadership development, strategic planning, and transition and change management.  Having a Masters of Science in Performance Management and Training (Leicester University), a Bachelor of Laws (Edinburgh University) and Diplomas in Training Management and Human Resource Management (Kingston University).

Hamilton has worked for and consulted with organizations undergoing major change in the private and public sectors in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Hamilton partners with clients to provide performance improvement services in the healthcare, education, not for profit, utility, financial services and manufacturing sectors.

Increasingly, in today’s complex organizations, employees at all levels, especially leadership, are expected to give feedback for improvement and positive feedback as part of our daily team and leadership practices. International organizational research shows that being able to give effective feedback is a core leadership skill that contributes to a supportive work culture.

The session with Hamilton focused on enabling attendees to learn how to provide better feedback to colleagues, a leader, or a person who reports to you. The session demonstrated strategies and techniques to master the art of giving and receiving feedback effectively.

 From her experience, Hamilton recognized that people often feel nervous when giving feedback, and because of that people tend to avoid it. An important part of personal and professional development is giving feedback, both positive and for improvement. Without feedback, people may not see their strengths and their areas for improvement.

She recommended five strategies that people can employ to deliver feedback better:

  1. Be specific about the behaviour and always use “I” language.
    • e.g. “I noticed that you have arrived late to two meetings…”
    • Using I is non-blaming and expresses how a situation or event has affected me.
  2. Describe the impact the behaviour has had on your work.
    • e.g. “…and I am feeling frustrated because it will be hard to complete our report on time.”
    • This helps the person to understand and identify with how their actions have inconvenienced someone else.
  3. Ask for more information and suggestions from the person you are giving feedback to.
    • e.g. “Help me understand what might be going on”
    • This helps the person understand to clearly understand what is expected and allows you to determine next steps.
  4. Clarify your expectations for future behaviour and get commitment.
    • e.g. “So, let us check what we have agreed to…”
    • This creates the opportunity for both people to be on the same page and hold one another accountable for what was agreed to.
  5. Thank the person and change the subject.
    • e.g. “Thank you for chatting with me about this…by the way did you happen to catch this new series on Netflix last night?”
      • Hamilton recommends changing the subject at the end because it is a great way to reduce one’s anxiety level about the feedback received.

Ending a feedback session on a more “relaxed” note will go a long way towards boosting employee engagement while still getting your point across.

Lastly, Hamilton highlighted a few other strategies to giving tough and positive feedback.

A good approach to giving tough feedback is using self-disclosure.

  • This is indicating that you may be feel uncomfortable and or awkward about giving feedback; it is essential as leaders and team members, that we manage our discomfort and proceed to give the feedback for improvement constructively.

A good approach to giving positive feedback is to be specific what was said or done.

  • Describe why it was effective, give time for them to respond (sometimes people can be a bit surprised when they receive positive feedback), and then champion them going forward.

Attendees were able to learn and understand the importance of personal and professional development by giving feedback, both positive and for improvement. Without feedback, people may not see their strengths and their areas for improvement.

The MEL and MHLP cohort learned that by becoming skillful in giving feedback they can become more effective communicators.

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