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How to Give Feedback Online

Giving feedback to a remote team is challenging, as we have limited ability to read the room. Regardless, if team members have had time to prepare for a meeting, they are able to voice their concerns in a structured and timely manner. I like to follow the ORID method of resolving conflict, even when I need to offer feedback. Of course, I have modified this over the years, depending on who I am corresponding with, but the design stays the same. ORID stands for Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional method. It is a form of a structured conversation led by a facilitator. The method was developed by the Institute for Cultural Affairs as a means to analyze facts and feelings, to ask about implications, and to make decisions intelligently. It is worth studying the different approaches of how to use this method, but the simplest, most intuitive, way of using this is by structuring a set of questions that grants the team time to reflect and become part of the discussion and decision making process. The four stages of objective, reflective, interpretive, and decisional can be structured around the four following questions, respectively:

  1. Objective: What do we know about this? This is the evidence gathering stage. It is important to not discuss feelings in the first stage, just the facts.

  2. Reflective: How do we feel about this? This is where we can discuss feelings, perceptions, fears, and concerns. It is important to not analyze here, simply give permission for this phase of the discussion to occur.

  3. Interpretive: What does it mean for me/you/us and the organization etc.? This is the phase of gaining perspective, analyzing possible scenarios, reflecting on the previous two phases, and discussing the impacts of future decisions. It is important here to refrain from getting the team back into the reflective phase.

  4. Decisional: What are we going to do? This is where leaders need to use their judgment and act as a moderator in the team. The best course of action will be determined on whether they have been able to gather and reflect on the findings of the previous stages.

  5. Prepare the team and follow a sharing circle method. The ORID process requires time. Rushed discussions will result in more hostility or further miscommunication, and hence, more feedback. In order to save time in phase 2 and 3, leaders need to prepare their team beforehand. It is recommended that the team has had time to reflect on these questions and has arrived to the meeting prepared. In addition to this, it is important that every team member has had an opportunity to share. Virtual meetings tend to be harder to facilitate. Therefore, if it is clear that everyone will have a chance to speak, it will minimize interruptions and offer everyone a chance to be heard in this structured discussion.

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