Feedback – Apply First, Then Reflect

When feedback is delivered the order that most people naturally adopt is:

1. Practice
2. Feedback
3. Reflect and discuss
4. Possibly do over

The sequence that practice should generally follow is:

1. Practice
2. Feedback
3. Do over (re-practice incorporating the feedback)
4. Possibly repeat the practice multiple times.
5. Reflect

This simple difference has a major impact. In the first order we have people discussing the feedback before they implement it. This discussion by necessity will consist of presumptions about the feedback since it has not been tested yet. You  will simply be dealing with the receiver of the feedback’s reaction to the feedback. This can actually result in the feedback not been implemented at all.

Waiting until the feedback has been implemented, possibly multiple times before reflecting leads to a much more fruitful reflection. Now we have something real to reflect on, whether or not the feedback worked.

So rather than engage in an immediate discussion about the feedback move straight from feedback to action. Any objections should be responded to in a way that delays discussion until after it is implemented, for example: “OK, you might be right. Try it first and we’ll see.”

Apply First, Then Reflect

  • Reflection, while helpful, can get in the way of practice which is much more important. Ask people to apply feedback first, then reflect on it.
  • Applying feedback first and then reflecting gives you more information on the value of the feedback which makes the time spent reflecting much more useful.