Giving and receiving feedback is essential to any team-based work environment, whether within a workplace or when working with a VA. To help you, we’ve put together a short guide on one particularly useful tool: the AID model.

When you provide constructive feedback, it encourages communication, collaboration, and a culture of trust that’s needed for successful projects and partnerships. Feedback and, in turn, communication, in general, can really impact the success of a particular task or project.

While giving any non-positive feedback at first can feel uncomfortable, learning to give constructive feedback is a muscle you strengthen through practice and use. It really is essential to provide feedback, though. Without it, most individuals, even the most independent and confident, work blindly.

Feedback ensures that everybody has a common goal, that nobody is letting small tasks slip through the cracks, and that any issues can be raised before they become big problems.

It can have a huge impact on an overall work culture, and in a study conducted by Gallup, giving regular feedback meant that companies had a lower turnover rate of staff by almost 15%.

When providing feedback, positive or negative, it is essential always to remain professional and respectful. Speak with empathy and sincerity to ensure the message gets across without alienating anyone.

Providing constructive criticism helps the receiver understand why the work wasn’t up to par and allows them to learn from their mistakes. Additionally, offering compliments on a well-done job will show appreciation for hard work and make your teammate feel motivated and appreciated.

What Is The AID Model?

One way of giving feedback is to use the AID model created by Max Landsberg in his book “The Tao of Coaching”.

Split into three stages, the AID model stands for:

  • Action
  • Impact
  • Desired Behaviour/Outcome

This model is handy because it offers a structured approach to handling feedback.

When people may get upset or become defensive, it can be very easy to get distracted or say the “wrong” thing. However, using the AID model framework allows feedback delivery constructively.

Action

Action is all about speaking about the individual’s actions and, most importantly, not your own interpretation or view of them. You can provide more solid feedback by feeding back the factual information of what you have seen and heard rather than your opinion of what you believe they have done incorrectly.

Equally, rather than offering a list of several things you think could have been done differently, focus on one key action instead. This gives something that the individual can specifically work and build on and offer a reason factually. By being factual, you are less likely to receive any resistance.

Impact

Following on from bringing the factual action to the individual’s attention, Impact is about the overall result it can have – positive or negative.

When saying something has been actioned incorrectly, if you don’tdon’t explain the WHY behind it, it can lessen the feedback. Equally, when praising someone but not saying HOW it was positive or WHY it will have a good effect, it can lack substance.

Desired Behaviour (Outcome)

Making it clear what you want to see, be it results, attitude, performance, or key performance indicators, makes it easier for all parties to be sure they are on the same page. Equally, you want to motivate and incentivise the person that you are speaking with.

There is little point in saying something is “wrong” but providing no indication of what is “right”. It leaves everyone feeling like they don’tdon’t know what to do next, or even with some resentment.

On the other hand, if someone has done something positive, if you don’t say anything, there is a risk they will feel that they have fulfilled all obligations. They may stop trying to do it anymore. ​​You want to encourage an individual to keep striving for the best, and so telling them what is expected of them in the future it will give them.

Image of a red headed woman sat in a coffee shop smiling at a laptop

Scenarios Where AID Can Be Used

Positive Feedback

You have an assistant who has been managing your email inbox, and they have been doing a fantastic job. There are no emails left unanswered, your calendar is up-to-date, and you return from a holiday with a carefully planned out list of to-dos, making your return to work easier. This is a situation that would call for giving positive feedback. Using the AID model, you could:

Action: Explain that their action, monitoring your inbox and making judgement calls shows real skill.

Impact: The Impact of this is that you were able to have a restful holiday and return to a positive situation. This will make not only yourself happy but clients happy as well.

Desired Behavior/Outcome: This could be a case of asking them to continue using this email approach but also offering support to your business partner who struggles to maintain their inbox.

Negative Feedback

You have an accounts assistant who is responsible for fulfilling supplier invoices. You have been CC’d in on an email from a supplier who hasn’t received payment for the last three invoices, despite chasing the accounts person on several occasions. You find out that they have been running their invoice runs using a written list, which was misplaced.

Action: You factually approach that they have missed this customer’scustomer’s invoice payments and are now overdue.

Impact: Explain that this has upset a supplier integral to your business. If they withhold their services, which they are entitled to at this point, it can harm the business.

Desired Behaviour/Outcome: You request they immediately action the invoices and look at a more secure and digital way of reconciling invoices in the future.

Preparing To Give Feedback

Using the feedback model above is a beneficial tool. However, making sure that you prepare before giving feedback is crucial.

It can be a delicate situation; as mentioned before, people can become defensive or upset. The critical thing to remember here is to make sure you are clear on the feedback you give, particularly if it’s negative, that it is action-based rather than personality-based.

This is also something that you need to emphasise to the receiver as well. Really get across the point that you are criticising the action, not the personality. It is not a personal attack, and you want to work together to create success.

Be mindful of your tone when delivering feedback as well. It is often better to deliver feedback privately and verbally rather than in front of others or via email. Email is excellent at delivering messages quickly, but many nuances can be lost within the text.

Also, don’t immediately deliver feedback after a mistake has been made. Again this runs the risk of causing emotion and subjectivity to get involved. Step away from the situation, allow both parties to process what happened and then take the time to prepare and ensure the feedback is factual.

Finally, make sure that you are doing this consistently. Not offering feedback and suddenly piling on lots can be jarring for individuals.

Feedback is a core element of overall communication within a business, and not giving positive and negative feedback at regular intervals can leave people feeling like they are working in a vacuum.

Receiving Feedback

As well as giving feedback, you need to be able to receive it. And learning to receive it can be just as important and challenging!

Creating a culture of feedback allows for a much more collaborative work environment. It prevents fear of or a gap between senior management and any workforce or contractors.

It also ensures that nobody is untouchable and that you allow yourself to be approachable and give the space for new ideas and ways of doing things.

It also helps with your customer base. It’s all too easy to receive a complaint from a customer and chalk it up to personality. Still, by actively listening, you can build a stronger client base and even improve your business.

Two women sitting at a conference table, one woman with curly hair and glasses is typing on a laptop adn smiling while the woman on her right speaks to her.

In Summary

Feedback is the tool that will make a good business great. When presented in a way that makes sense, a bit of discomfort and reality check allows for new growth and development. If people are never given feedback, they can never look to develop their skills or push themselves further.

Try and implement the AID model next time you need to give feedback. Start with the positive if it feels uncomfortable, and use it for the negative. Like giving feedback, using the model will become a learned skill the more you practise it.

You’ll soon be able to identify precisely how to spot and deliver feedback way more naturally and effectively.

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