A director of my school from a few years ago had a staff training session about something called the Professional Feedback Model. For those of you who are not familiar with what the Professional Feedback Model is, I will enlighten you, for the ultimate benefit of all man-kind! It's a 7 step exchange between two professionals or two colleagues in which one is giving feedback and one is receiving it. The purpose is to give colleagues a systematic and effective way to address problems in another colleague's performance, behavior, or actions in the work setting without creating bad feelings, longer-term conflicts, and decreased morale. Here are the seven steps in the model:
Speaker:So in general, it goes like this: You see something sucky happening at work. You find the person who is behaving in the sucky manner. You acknowledge something positive or empathetic towards that person. Then, you point out the sucky behavior and give reasons for why that behavior sucks, point out the alternative, better, desired behavior, and the reasons that new desired behavior sucks less, and then ask for acknowledgement that the person understands. Then, the one getting feedback should acknowledge his or her understanding, in response. It is supposed to avoid things like accusations and ineffective or non-constructive criticism, and it is supposed to facilitate improvement in the work setting so that people don't constantly feel like they suck -- so they grow and get better at their jobs or tasks without feeling low or ganged-up on.
1. Point of agreement/empathy statement
Helps to set a positive tone by demonstrating your awareness of the individual’s accomplishments and/or understanding of their situation.
2. Undesirable behavior
Increases the individual’s awareness of the behaviors that offend or create conflict.
3. Rationale (detriments)
Explains how the individual’s behavior negatively impacts communication, the team members, the congregation or their relationship with God.
4. Desired behavior
Provides the individual with explicit information about your expectations and a description of an alternative, more effective or appropriate behavior.
5. Rationale (benefits)
Explains how the alternative behavior will benefit communication, the team members, or the congregation or their relationship with God.
6. Request for acknowledgement
Gauges the individual’s understanding of your concerns and promotes discussion.
7. Appreciation / Acknowledgement statement
Demonstrates a receptive attitude, your own professionalism, and your interest in wanting to improve and/or resolve the situation.
— by Julie McDonald, Ozark, Missouri; from "The Profit And Loss Of Confrontation: A Practical Model For Professional Feedback"
Ever since this staff training, I have taken this model to heart in life in general, finding it a handy, intuitive, and effective way to give feedback to co-workers, co-teachers, and colleagues at graduate school. I find that many graduate students instinctively use this model when grading papers and working with underclassmen. But, I have to say, I don't find many other people using this model at the graduate level. At first, I thought maybe it was just too kind for the graduate school world -- in other words, no need for a professor or a graduate student peer to use any form of sugar-coating when giving feedback to a graduate student on his work. But, then, I thought about it -- if it is good for the rest of the working world, I'm wondering, do more of us in the graduate school world need to be exposed to this and use it on an every day basis? How would it contribute to a change in graduate school culture?
What do you think? Let me know when and where a graduate student, and our professors, advisors, and administrators, could have used this model to improve a situation, or how you envision it in changing the overall culture of graduate student life!