How to Give Feedback

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Angela Cathey, MA  & Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Providing feedback effectively is difficult for most new leaders. Most leaders are promoted due to their exceptional skill in some area, often not their skill in management itself. In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, the BDA staff reviewed the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) 6 Stages of Feedback. The following is a summary of the BACB’s recommended steps to providing effective feedback. We encourage you to watch BDA’s video for further examples.

Provide an empathy statement.

An ‘empathy statement’ is a statement that describes your awareness and understanding of why performance of the behavior may be difficult. Providing an empathy statement makes feedback easier to receive and increases the likelihood that feedback will be adopted. For example, if an employee delivered an assignment late you might make the following empathy statement, ‘Bob, I understand you have been under a lot of pressure recently.’

Describe the ineffective performance.

The next crucial step in providing feedback would be to describe the ineffective or problematic behavior. Continuing with the example above, one might add ‘… but we are receiving your work after the required deadlines.’

Provide a rational for the recommended change in performance.

From this point, we recommend adding information about why the behavior change is important. Continuing with our previous example, this might include a statement like, “this is problematic because other team mates are getting behind schedule due to receiving your work later than anticipated.’

Provide instruction and demonstration on the preferred performance.

You should then follow-up your feedback by demonstrating a preferred way to perform the behavior that takes into account new information you may have learned during the feedback process. For example, feedback on improving an employee’s late return of assignments might logically include instruction and practice of time management skills; however, if you learn during the feedback process that the employee might better be served by learning assertiveness skills to better refuse additional work you might obtain a better change in behavior from providing instruction and instruction and practice in these skills.

Provide an opportunity to practice new skills and generous reinforcement for improvements.

Practice of new skills with appropriate feedback is vital. Behavior change stays when new behavior is strengthened through reinforcement. Once you observe the preferred behavior or an approximation of it, make sure to provide ample reinforcement and specific feedback about what improvements you have observed.

Make sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

bSci21Media, LLC, owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog, bSciEntrepreneurial, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

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*The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (“BACB”) does not sponsor, approve or endorse Brett DiNovi & Associated, bSci21Media, LLC, the materials, information or sessions identified herein.

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