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How To Hire Culturally Diverse Employees: The Top Diversity Hiring Practices

If you are looking to hire culturally diverse employees, here are five diversity hiring practices that have been proven to work. Try them out.

When looking to hire culturally diverse employees many discover that it’s not that simple. Standard hiring practices may leave a recruiting pool dry and leave you empty-handed. But don’t despair, here are five surefire diversity hiring practices you can implement right away.

5 Diversity Hiring Practices Proven to Help You Hire Culturally Diverse Employees

If you’re reading this, you are probably well aware that companies that do not hire culturally diverse employees are missing out on top talent. Test run these top diversity-hiring practices on your organization. Measure your results. And remember, if you need help, I am just a stone throw away.

Top hiring practices: Should you consider cultural fit? Click to keep on reading!

Top hiring practices: Should you consider cultural fit?

1Avoid Unconscious Biases Using Blind Resumes

Research has shown that resumes with white sounding and male names command more attention and hiring rates than black-sounding or female names on the exact, same resume.

Researchers from the University of Chi­cago and M.I.T. landmark study showed that “Those with ‘‘white’’ names received 50 percent more callbacks for interviews than those with ‘‘black’’ names.” – NY Times.

You’ve probably witnessed this phenomenon in your recruiting career, right?

The same happens with top tier universities and with certain revered organizations. Undoubtedly, despite all good intentions to hire culturally diverse employees, unconscious biases are at play here.

Why?

Because we tend to feel more comfortable with people who are like us.

This is one of the main reasons why your company keeps hiring people who look and sound alike. They grew up in the same area of the country, went to similar schools, worked in organizations with a similar culture.

But if you want to attract employees that are more culturally diverse you have to be more vigilant of your biases towards specific backgrounds. You have to do whatever it takes to hire different people from the ones that currently populate your office.

Here is where this top diversity hiring practice comes in. Grab the bull by the horns and blind all resumes.

How?

  • Request applicants to submit resumes without the name of the university they graduated from.
  • Assign numbers to everyone who applies so that you can’t tell whether they are male or female.
  • Put everyone through the interview process and select the winning candidate regardless of background or gender.

But you must watch out for pitfalls here. An HR executive – client of mine from a large multinational company – wanted to eliminate a prevalent cultural bias as most of her workers were recruited out of the same three elite universities. She followed this exact process to increase the hiring of culturally diverse employees.

5 Diversity Hiring Practices Proven to Help You Hire Culturally Diverse Employees. Role of unconscious bias.

5 Diversity Hiring Practices Proven to Help You Hire Culturally Diverse Employees. Role of unconscious bias.

At the end of 5 rounds of interviews, when the top three finalists were selected, she revealed to the hiring committee the schools they had graduated from. None of them were from these three prestigious schools. The committee suggested to scrap that search and to start all over again because the candidates would not be “a cultural fit.”

This could be one of the challenges that you may have to overcome if you’re committed to hiring culturally diverse talent. Make sure everyone in your organization is aligned with your good intentions.

How did the story of the HR executive’s intervention end? She stuck to her guns and hired the top three finalists.

The result?

20 years later all of them had built stellar careers within her organization.

These culturally diverse employees are a clear example that blinding resumes is a sound diversity hiring practice. It enables recruiters to hire the best people for the job keeping unconscious biases at bay.

Bundle Job Searches to Increase Your Diverse Hires. Discover other top recruiting practices to hire culturally diverse employees.

Bundle Job Searches to Increase Your Diverse Hires.

2Forget Cultural Fit. Create Structured Interviews.

Businesses have long glorified the cultural fit. Unfortunately, that’s often code for “the candidate we hire must be white” or “male” or “white male.”

This insistence on cultural fit – in spite of what research shows – is one of the reasons organizations are so slow to reach gender parity and inclusion at the highest levels of decision-making.

“Why do we stick with a method that so clearly does not work, when decision aids, including tests, structured interviews, and a combination of mechanical predictors, substantially reduce error in predicting employee performance? The organizational psychologist Scott Highhouse called this resistance “the greatest failure of I-O [industrial and organizational] psychology.” – Harvard Business Review

Structured interviews will help overcome this bias and build a more robust and culturally diverse institution

Here is how to implement this hiring practice:

  1. Establish a set of relevant questions for the roles you are looking to fill and always ask every candidate these same questions in the exact same order.
  2. Assign a value to each question. For example: You can rate each answer on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being unacceptable/inappropriate/no match to position/absence of skill, and 10 being optimal/perfect match of requirements for position.
  3. Have one person conduct the interview and rate each question answered by the candidate as the interview takes place.
  4. At the end of all interviews, pass on all the interviews with their rated answers to a second person. Perhaps your assistant. Have them calculate the best performing candidate and tell you who the finalist is.

This eliminates potential hiring mistakes that are frequently made when employees get selected because the hiring manager “connected” with them over things such as having played the same sport in school or supporting the same non-profit organization. Therefore, it helps you decide more objectively who gets the job.

This simple act allows your good intention of hiring more culturally diverse talent to win over your unconscious biases.

3Bundle Job Searches to Increase Your Diverse Hires

It’s easy to hire the same type of person over and over again when you hire for one position at a time.

Hiring managers may unconsciously believe that a man or a woman or someone from a specific ethnic background would be better suited for a specific role, perpetuating imbalances by continuing to hire according to the stereotype for said position. For example, hiring Asian employees for tech positions and Hispanics for customer service.

How do we work around this particular bias?

Research has shown that by grouping or bundling all searches for similar roles it’s easier to notice the mix of people you’re hiring and whether you’re embracing culturally diverse employees.

There is a similar research that shows that when people are asked to pick a snack and they do so day after day, they tend to eat more sweets and junk food than when asked to choose all of their snacks for an entire week. The selection then becomes more diverse and it includes healthier options.

The solution here is simple and self-evident. Rather than hiring for one position at a time, survey the different business units or departments in your organization for other positions to fill. Then, conduct a larger search to hire for multiple positions at once. You will notice a pool of hires that is much more culturally diverse.

Discover how to hire culturally diverse employees.

Discover how to hire culturally diverse employees.

4Encourage Your Current Diverse Talent to Provide Referrals

Have you noticed how in an area where there were no Ecuadorians or Chinese people at all, suddenly there’s a whole community of them?

It’s human nature. Those who have already settled in a town tell their families and friends about current job opportunities and quality of life. Consequently, the new immigrants settle where they can find jobs and they already have a support system via a group of people who share their culture.

You can replicate this timeless phenomenon to attract more culturally diverse employees.

Here’s how: Ask your current staff to refer qualified candidates for any current open positions.

You are likely to see your culturally diverse recruiting pool increase substantially within a short period of time. The added advantage is that those who already work for your organization will collaborate with the on ramping of their colleagues. They will introduce them to their networks and share company policies and any unwritten rules.

It’s pretty common practice for companies to ask their employees to refer others for open positions. Just cast a wider net and enjoy the benefits of a more culturally diverse workforce.

Mariela Dabbah reveals the secrets to hiring culturally diverse employees.

Mariela Dabbah reveals the secrets to hiring culturally diverse employees.

5Retention of Your Current Diverse Talent Is Priority One

Now, for the final diversity hiring practice and a big bonus if correctly implemented:

Having a good retention plan in place before you hire substantial numbers of culturally diverse employees is a must.

Why?

First, because you don’t want to lose the talent you so painstakingly acquired. But also because diverse talent tends to feel more comfortable working for organizations that value inclusion. They are more likely to check out your reputation before they apply. If you have lackluster numbers and a reputation for not offering true career paths to women or culturally diverse employees, you’re less likely to succeed in attracting top diverse talent.

So, put your house in order before you venture out to hire new staff.

  • Make sure that you walk the talk
  • Offer stretch assignments and opportunities for relevant exposure to women and diverse talent
  • Align their interests with the type of work they do for your organization
  • Use transparency in your compensation and promotion practices
  • Make all your talent feel respected

We hope these top diversity-hiring practices help you hire culturally diverse employees. Put them in practice and always remember I am here to support your efforts.

Book a 1-hour consultation with me and get unbiased D&I, Career Development & Leadership advice. Ask all the questions you have!

Lateral Thinking: Find More Innovative Solutions Faster!

Lateral thinking has two functions: to generate creative ideas and to solve problems. The more we exercise it, the more and better solutions we find to all sorts of challenges. Don’t miss this mind bending post!

What is lateral thinking?

“There are six eggs in one basket. There are six people. Each one takes an egg. How is it possible that in the end there is still an egg in the basket? ”

(Answer: The last person was left with the basket with an egg.)

This is a typical challenge that requires the use of lateral thinking. Why? Because more than data or logical reasoning, this problem demands mental processes related to insight, creativity and ingenuity.

Family, education and culture stimulate memory and vertical thinking, based on logic, which is a necessary but insufficient skill. We have two cerebral hemispheres, each specialized in one type of processing: the left is rational and the right is creative. We need to develop both sides and integrate them to be more effective in solving problems.

To incorporate lateral thinking into your life you simply practice specific creative techniques that allow you to use it at will. It’s like going to the gym, but in this case, to keep your mind in shape.

Lateral thinking allows digging wells in different places instead of deepening the same well (solution, idea.)

Lateral thinking allows digging wells in different places instead of deepening the same well (solution, idea.)

Two styles of thinking: vertical and lateral

The term lateral thinking was coined by Edward de Bono in the 1960s to differentiate it from conventional or vertical thinking, the type of thinking based on experiences, assumptions, and deductions. Using memory and vertical thinking means applying a higher dose of the same solution to a problem. In other words, they lead us to dig deeper into the same well.

Instead, with lateral thinking we dig a well in another place. And if it doesn’t work, we try another, or instead of a well we dig a tunnel, or rethink the basic approach. Because in addition to a type of mental processing, lateral thinking is a method for using information that considers that there are always several possibilities to approach a situation. Different from vertical thinking which assumes there’s only one correct way.

The aim of lateral thinking is not to come up with correct ideas, but to generate a great number of them. Then, at a later stage, you can apply vertical thinking to analyze the ideas you came up with, improve them, discard the invalid ones, choose the best ones and test them.

In a first stage the focus should be on producing lots of new ideas. In a second, you analyze which can be put into practice. You have to know when to use lateral and vertical thinking.

In a first stage the focus should be on producing lots of new ideas. In a second, you analyze which can be put into practice. You have to know when to use lateral and vertical thinking

Want to develop this type of skills? Join our Step Up Plus program!

The 3 types of problems

You could define a problem as the difference between what you have and what you want to have.

By breaking down established models, lateral thinking liberates the information these models contain challenging assumptions and prejudices. This facilitates the creation of new models and mental structures, connections and processing styles. Not in a fixed way, but rather so that they can be decomposed as often as necessary.

According to Edward De Bono there are three types of problems:

1 Those that require more information. They are solved by vertical thinking, such as mathematical problems and police puzzles, which involve a logical sequence that increases with new data. Its a linear approach to a single possible solution.

2Those that do not require more information, but a reorganization or restructure of the available information. They are resolved through the use we make of data, new associations or connections, imagination and even questioning our vertical thinking. These problems are usually are based on a new perspective, a new mental process, a discovery or a series of partial ideas that bring us closer to the best solution.

This is the case of the classic lateral thinking conundrum: a gardener is instructed to plant 4 trees so that they are all equidistant. How can you plant them?

I won’t post the answer here to help you force your methods of rearranging the data I gave you. If you want to know the answer you can send me a note: bbensignor@gmail.com.

3Those that are not recognized as a problem. They have to do with perception and can’t be resolved until they are detected. They may also require a change of perspective, as in the previous case. Here we don’t even realize that we have a problem to solve. In this case, you need an increase of focus and sensitivity to the unexpected in order to perceive what you don’t know.

 

Prejudices are persistent and difficult to disintegrate. For that you can use lateral thinking.

Prejudices are persistent and difficult to disintegrate. For that you can use lateral thinking.

Impossible cube

Most people see a cube in this image of Escher. But it is a virtual figure: the front and back edges intersect. It is an example of a problem that goes unnoticed.

 

 

A perfect example of a problem that goes unnoticed.

A perfect example of a problem that goes unnoticed.

5 techniques to develop creativity

Lateral thinking can be trained by practicing specific techniques to develop your creativity.

Some of them are:

1Search for alternatives

An example: how can a square be divided into four equal parts? (Take a few seconds before viewing the following pictures.)

Solution: alternatives, from the easiest to the less usual:

Solution 1 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 1 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 2 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 2 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 3 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 3 to divide a square into four equal parts

2Assumptions review: lateral thinking does not accept or reject the validity of assumptions about a topic, its objective is to question and restructure them as often as necessary.

An example: two players, O and X, mark the spaces of a 3 × 3 board alternately. A player wins if he manages to have a line of three of his symbols: the line can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. (Take a few seconds before you see the next image.)

Solution:

Reviewing assumptions

Reviewing assumptions

Surely, the first thing you thought about was that I cheated. I would have done it if I had explained that it was the Tic Tac Toe game. That is your assumption: at no time did I clarify that it was the traditional game and that therefore the limits of the board should not be exceeded.

3Redefining the dominant idea: a dominant idea is the theme or principle around which a situation or problem revolves. If it is not grasped, it will influence the thinking that will limit possible solutions. It is easier to escape the influence of something that is known than that which is ignored.

An example: a man lives on the 10th floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and then climbs up the stairs the remaining three floors to his apartment on the tenth. Why does he do this? (Take a few seconds before reading the solution.)

Solution: he was little person.

The dominant idea of ​​this riddle, as in most, is that it is a person of a standard height. And it is that idea what limits the possibility of resolution.

4Dividing technique: if a situation is divided into parts that constitute it, it is possible to restructure the situation by reordering the parts. It is important not try to find preexisting elements, but to create parts, breaking up the situation in an artificial way. This also facilitates the generation of new models, applicable to future (not necessarily similar) situations.

An example: if we are trying to solve the problem of “transportation by bus”, we could divide the situation as follows:

  • Selection of itineraries
  • Frequency of services
  • Comfort of the service
  • Total probable number of travelers
  • Probable number of travelers at different times of day
  • Bus capacity
  • Other means of transportation
  • Cost and income
  • Number of travelers who depend mainly on the bus service and number of them who can easily use other forms of transportation

5Inversion method: this technique is more lateral in nature than the previous one. The problem is considered in its real structure and is inverted in one direction or another, from top to bottom, from outside to inside, causing a forced rearrangement of information.

Example: In the famous fable of Aesop, the water in the vessel was too deep for the bird to drink. The bird began to imagine means of extracting the water from the jar, without reaching any satisfactory solution. Then she reversed the focus of the problem and instead of thinking about the means of drawing water, she thought she could introduce elements into the vessel to bring the water up. In fact, she began to throw stones until she was able to drink.

Want to play and practice your lateral thinking?

Here are 3 classic riddles of lateral thinking. With this exercise you can start your training. Go ahead!

1Two chess players. Two excellent chess players played five games in one day, and each of them won three. How is that possible?

2Coal, carrot and cap. Five pieces of charcoal, a whole carrot and an elegant cap are thrown in the garden. Nobody has lost them and they’ve been in the grass for the same amount of time. How did they get there?

3You are driving your car on a terrible storm night. You pass by a bus stop where three people are waiting:

  • An old woman who seems about to die.
  • An old friend who saved your life once.
  • The perfect man or the woman of your dreams.

Who would you take in the car, since you only have room for one passenger?

Solutions:

Answer 1: They did not play with each other, but against other opponents.

Answer 2: They are the remains of a melted snowman.

Answer 3: Unlike the previous ones, this is an ethical-moral dilemma that was once used in a job interview. You could take the old lady, because she’s going to die and therefore you should save her first. Or you could take your friend, since he saved your life and you are indebted to him. But if you take these options you may never meet the lover of your dreams again.

The candidate who was hired from 200 applicants did not hesitate. What did he answer? Very simply: “I would give my car keys to my friend, and I would ask him to take the old woman to the hospital, while I would wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams.”

We can always overcome the apparent limitations of each problem by learning to think creatively.

How do you plan to deal with problems after training in these creative techniques?

5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threats are real. They affects performance and morale. Luckily, research shows you can drastically reduce their impact with pretty simple interventions. Read on!

Defined as “a situational predicament in which individuals are at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group,” stereotype threats have a harmful effect on women in the workplace.

Red Shoe Movement’s Principle #7 Addresses Stereotype Threat

Labels refer to any word or expression we use (even tongue-in-cheek) that has an overt or subtle derogatory undertone: Bitch, bossy, competitive, etc. These labels reflect deep-held beliefs we contribute to perpetuate every time we use them. So when women don’t conform to the social norm expected of them and are interested in power, or when they are decisive and have a strong will to carry out their vision, we collectively bring them down a notch or two by calling them names.

In other words, certain expressions can have very detrimental —even if unintended— consequences. Identifying this effect goes a long way to changing our choice of words.

Principle 7 of the Red Shoe Movement deals with stereotype threat

Principle 7 of the Red Shoe Movement deals with stereotype threat

With the help of a nuanced infographic created by Catalyst, we review how to flip five common labels used on women to reduce stereotype threat.

1She’s Too Abrasive or She’s Too Aggressive

This is a case of damn if you do, damn if you don’t, if there ever was one. Women are told that they need to be assertive and express themselves and what they want clearly. Yet, when they do, they are penalized for not being warm and fuzzy. Finding the sweet spot can be quite hard.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than focusing on their style you should focus on their work performance.

In addition: Some research shows that when it comes to feedback, women get more negative personality criticism than men. Things like: “You can come across as aggressive sometimes.” So may I also suggest that you think twice before providing this kind of feedback? Would you say the same thing to Tom that you’re about to say to Lisa? That’s an easy way to assess if you’re about to fall into a stereotype threat.

Knowing the stereotype threat definition helps you guard off any words that may lead to it

Knowing the stereotype threat definition helps you guard off any words that may lead to it

2She’s So Helpful

One of the ways in which organizations can facilitate the promotion of women to positions of more responsibility is by creating opportunities for exposure. Those seldom lie in a support position. When women are viewed as part of the “back office” or the support team, they are less likely to be perceived as leadership material. So although it’s good to appreciate the support of your team members when warranted, if that’s all you do for them, they won’t go as far in their careers as they could.

Solution

Catalyst: When you speak of the women in your team, be specific about their contributions.

In addition: Find real opportunities for every woman on your team to develop and exercise leadership skills regardless of their position. Admins and support staff can be put in charge of leading projects that give them the exposure they deserve. You might be surprised at how people rise to the occasion once you raise your expectations.

Flip the Script Women

Courtesy Catalyst

3She Gets Overly Emotional

I don’t need to tell you that women tend to be more in touch with their emotions than their male counterparts. Or that often, when we are angry we cry. And although this may be a biological response, both tears and displays of anger in the workplace tend to be frowned upon. When it’s women who are doing either, obviously. The social norm that affects men expects them to exhibit anger, assertiveness, and aggression as part of the attributes of male leadership. Not so much for women.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than calling her “emotional” take the time to describe to women the consequences of their behavior.

In addition: Help them learn to explain the reason for their tears while they are shedding them, so their audience is aware they are not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of anger, frustration, etc. Help your male employees identify their different responses to anger when expressed by each gender so they understand women can get angry yet be effective leaders.

4She Lacks Leadership Gravitas or She Lacks Executive Presence

This is frequently code for “she doesn’t look like the current leadership,” which tends to be white, and male. This expression particularly affects women of color because they face a double whammy. Gender and race or ethnicity. It’s trully quite a stereotype threat when you wish to promote more women to the top.

So if you are truly committed to diversity and inclusion at the top of your organization, the current leadership will have to look beyond the traditional definition of executive presence.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than just crossing a woman off explain exactly what you mean.

In addition: If you continue using the old definition of the attributes, abilities, experience you look for in a leader, you’ll probably continue to recruit the same type of person. Get rid of unstructured interviews where “cultural fit” can become an unspoken way to hire people who look like you or your current leadership team. Instead, create a list of specific requirements for the position and a list of questions that you ask all interviewees. Assign points to each answer and have someone else tally all the answers from all interviewees to get you the finalist. There are many concrete, simple interventions you can implement to make sure you hire the best person for the job rather than someone who fits some old stereotype.

5She’s Too Judgmental

Often, when women give critical feedback others consider her incompetent. This stereotype threat undermines women’s leadership chances.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than making it about her leadership style, focus on whether she’s demonstrating good judgment.

In addition: Everyone should understand that human beings are all judgmental. We can’t see the world other than through our individual lens. That lens places a layer of judgment on everything as we can only perceive people, circumstances and situations through our own experiences, emotions, knowledge, culture, social context and so on. So, rather than impose another stereotype threat, which might stop women’s impetus to grow, why not acknowledge that we are all equally judgmental.

As I said in a recent post about an entirely different subject, words matter. They build our reality. Choosing the right ones will guarantee we create a more promising future for everyone.

Be a great leader in difficult times and expand your influence

In times of social, political or economic uncertainty, everyone looks for a great leader. If you stand up, you will not only lead your people but expand your influence in the process. Here’s how.

There’s an enormous amount of discord, improvisation and overall uncertainty in America and the world right now. So what do you do if you are in charge of an organization or a group of people who are increasingly nervous? It’s not easy or simple to be a great leader in times like this. After all, you have to protect your employees and your stakeholders’ interest and those two things can often be at odds. Yet this need not interfere with the role you can play as a great leader who inspires confidence and trust.

Case in point, in the face of the current negative narrative being built around immigrants and women, you have an opportunity to become a beacon of stability and stand out as a great leader. You have a chance to inspire unity at a time when many of your employees  dread getting out of bed in the morning. If they feel their workplace embraces their uniqueness, respects differences, and encourages an ongoing dialog about difficult topics, they will feel safe.  As a result, not only will you retain your best talent, but you will also attract employees and customers who value a company that stands for true diversity and inclusion.

If you want to be considered a great leader, you can't hide in difficult times. You must take a stand.

If you want to be considered a great leader, you can’t hide in difficult times. You must take a stand.

Learn more on leadership from Sergio Kaufman of Accenture

How do you show you are a great leader?

There was never a better time to double down on your diversity and inclusion efforts. To make sure they don’t stay as mere rhetoric but that they are real, palpable initiatives, procedures, mindsets, etc. Here are a few ways to do it.

1Get sponsorship for your D&I initiatives from the very top. Be consistent. Get your C-suite team behind any initiatives wholeheartedly.

2Establish clear D&I goals and tie them to executive compensation. When you tie in performance and compensation, you create a shortcut for getting people behind initiatives they may have considered “nice haves.” Suddenly, these become business priorities.

3Measure your initiatives, scale up and expand those that work well. We all know the saying, “That which gets measured gets done.” So find the right way to measure the success of your initiatives so you can quickly build on them.

4Offer opportunities of exposure to women and minorities. If you’re promoting the virtues of more inclusion at the top, you must offer your diverse talent opportunities for visibility. Again, consistency is the name of the game. If you offer people training and development programs and then fall short of bringing them along for the ride, you’re not putting your money where your mouth is.

5Highlight publicly the work your women & minorities do. Public praise goes a long way to attracting visibility to people who might otherwise go unnoticed.

Great leaders like Richard Branson understand that his role is to impact people's lives.

Great leaders like Richard Branson understand that his role is to impact people’s lives.

Expand your leadership reach

A great leader exercises leadership both inside and outside of their organizations. So flaunt your leadership by sending strong inclusion messages to your current and potential clients on traditional and social media.

1Create marketing campaigns directed to women and minorities. They must underscore respectful, empowering, positive, optimistic messages regarding people with different backgrounds, religions and points of view.

2Clearly condemn messages that stereotype different groups and messages that promote fear  of the other, or hatred.

3Support the work of other organizations. Align yourself with organizations like the Red Shoe Movement that promote issues of equality in a positive way.

By taking these very simple steps you will be standing out as a great leader. One who stands on the right side of history.

 

 

 

How to give constructive feedback to a colleague effectively

As a Human Resources Executive, people frequently ask me: How can I give constructive feedback to a colleague without hurting them? Today I share with you how to do it successfully.

There’s no doubt that our current networks of multidisciplinary and diverse teams enrich our work and promote innovative solutions. The constant interaction with others to reach common goals, however, has its own challenges. One of them is evidenced when we know a colleague could benefit from some constructive feedback about a behavior that affects their work, and we don’t know the best way to deliver it.

One of the Red Shoe Movement’s 7 Principles is anchored around the value of feedback. It encourages us to give honest feedback to other women in our network avoiding hurtful or unnecessary criticism. And the core RSM methodology (the RSM Circles,) is partly based on ongoing feedback among colleagues.

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

In fact, due to our social nature, humans tend to look for external validation and are motivated by what others have to say. There is plenty of research around this. One survey conducted this year by the international leadership consulting firm Zenger/Folkman found out that 65% of the people surveyed would like to receive more feedback, and 57% said they preferred to get feedback about what they need to improve rather than what they do well.

To give effective feedback is one of the most generous gifts one can offer a colleague. To give feedback in a constructive way, however, you must keep in mind certain rules. The secret for feedback to be delivered effectively can be found in the answer to these three questions.

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

1Is my colleague open to receiving feedback?

The first thing to consider when thinking about giving feedback to a peer is whether they are emotionally open to receiving it, particularly if your feedback is about something that they need to improve or change in the future. Despite a positive intent to help, your feedback might be touching on a sensitive topic. It is worth noting that often at work we get to know only one aspect of the other person’s reality. We are usually unaware of other areas of their personal history, past experiences, beliefs, and limitations. That’s why it’s important, s to ask if the other person is open to feedback. Here’s how you could frame the question,, “Louise, I have some observations related to the presentation you gave on Monday. Would you be interested in discussing them?”

2Do I have specific and objective information to give constructive feedback?

If our colleague is willing to receive feedback, it is important to offer it properly. For that to happen you must have thorough information about the situation you wish to address in order to frame it correctly. The more objective and specific the information you have, the better. Try to avoid vague observations that will not allow the other person to know what they need to change moving forward. For example, avoid a comment such as, “Louise, I think your behavior is unprofessional in team meetings”. This type of feedback is not only too generic but also it focuses on personality, which will make the other person more defensive and less likely to hear what you have to say. The correct way to give constructive feedback would be: “Louise, I noticed that in team meetings you tend to speak over other people which is not well received and affects the mood of the meeting.”

3Is my feedback constructive and will it help my colleague improve?

The third Red Shoe Movement Principle talks about the spirit in which feedback should be offered. “Provide honest feedback to the women in your network and avoid hurtful comments or unnecessary criticism.” Emotions play an important role in giving and receiving feedback. My advice is to keep them under control, especially if you are giving feedback around a behavior that has frustrated you in the past. When it comes to non-verbal communication, it is better to sit side by side (to level the playing field,) speak in a direct and pleasant tone of voice and be aware of the other person‘s reactions to your words. If you notice that your feedback is not being well received, invite your colleague to express their own point of view rather than imposing yours. For example, you could say something like: “Louise, I can see that you have a different view of the situation. Would you like to share your point of view?”

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Giving feedback to a colleague who is a peer requires certain level of maturity and sensitivity to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings or negatively impacting the working relationship. You should not refrain from offering honest feedback, however, since doing so could deny your colleague of a valuable learning lesson and an opportunity to adjust professional competencies that could contribute to their future growth. Genuine, timely feedback that is delivered properly can not only work magic for the professional development of your colleague but also strengthen your working relationship. After all, taking the time to give constructive feedback to your peers is a concrete demonstration of your interest in their career success.