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Providing Effective Feedback - Eliminate the 'but' by using I Like, I Wish, How Could

Providing feedback is a critical component of positive development of our employees and team members.    

To give effective feedback, we need to get rid of the 'but'.  For example, if you approach an employee and say "You did a good job gathering data from your team for this problem, but I think you need to focus more on getting data from other teams", the only thing your employees hears is what is said after the but and the positive is negated.   Instead of 'but' we need to focus on the 'and'

A technique that I have tried that works great is using I Like, I Wish, How Could / What If.


I like that you got your team together for a discussion on your problems.

I like that you gathered data from your team to better understand the problem.

I wish we could have more data from other teams to make sure we understand the full impact of the problem.

How could we do that?


By doing this, you have acknowledged the good work and used the ‘and’ to build upon that work and suggest a refinement to their approach in a positive way.  The How Could engages everyone to work together on a possible solution.  

If you feel it would be better to provide a bit of coaching to the employee, you can use ‘What if” instead of How Could.  For example, you could finish with “What if you got the other teams together for a similar discussion”


Next time you give feedback, try it out and let me know the results – two I likes, a brief pause, an I wish and a How Could or What If. 

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Scott Smith
January 16, 2024
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