Do you sometimes find yourself tensing up before going into a feedback conversation? No matter whether we are the ones giving or receiving feedback, we often find the feedback process difficult since we are used to focus on issues and shortcomings, rather than on the positives.
The 3-2-1-Go Feedback approach is a structure that allows you to give feedback to others in a more constructive way by putting greater emphasis on the positive aspects of someone’s performance. Whilst of course also addressing negative aspects, they are not communicated as criticism, but combined with clear action steps for the person how they can improve.
As always, balance is key. Yet, human behavioural psychology shows that people respond much better to positive rather than negative feedback. Thus, your feedback should always emphasise the positives a bit more by pointing out someone’s strengths and helping them identify how to further develop their strongest skills, attributes and talents, instead of highlighting their weaknesses. This puts them into a better mindset and position to progress based on the confidence boost they receive through the encouraging feedback.
Use this template:
✅ To structure how you will give feedback to a team member in a simple yet highly effective way
✅ To ensure that the person you give feedback to will feel inspired and encouraged, rather than frustrated or intimidated
✅ To show your employees how they can give feedback to each other in a better way
This exercise can be used very flexibly in groups of any size.
For example, you could explain the 3-2-1-Go structure after people have engaged in an exercise and invite them to follow it in order to provide feedback to each other about the process / outcome of the previous exercise.
You can also download the template and use it in your own time to individually prepare for a feedback conversation.
In a group setting, introduce the 3-2-1-Go Feedback Structure to the participants based on the description you will find in the template.
If you’re using the template on your own, simply have a read through.
3 things someone is doing well.
Highlight the three biggest strengths or achievements of the person. Explain why you see certain characteristics or behaviours as strengths and share how you think they contributed to the persons’ success. You can even use this moment as an opportunity to brainstorm ways how to amplify these strengths.
2 opportunities for them to improve.
Point out two things that you observed where you think the individual could have achieved even more (instead of saying what he/she could have done better). What went less well? What’s the main weaknesses you perceived in their performance? Offer your ideas for improvement as suggestions (“You might want to try doing it this way”) rather than instructions (“You have to do it that way”) to open their minds to possible new ways of doing things, but allow them to choose which one is right for them.
1 thing that will make all the difference.
What is the one thing the individual could focus on in order to improve their performance? This takes a little thought from you. For example, you may suggest to focus on enhancing one of the identified strengths, or improving upon an area of weakness. However, you can provide any other practical tip or key aspect to focus on that will help the person to achieve better results.
To foster positive behaviour change, highlight the benefits and better outcomes the person will experience if they do the one thing you suggested in the previous step.
Something to keep in mind:
When introducing a group to this exercise, make sure that people practice to strictly adhere to the 3-2-1-Go structure. Our experience shows that the process is rather easy for people to understand, but when it comes to executing it, they often tend to fall back into old patterns of mentioning more than two negative features and usually forget the ‘Go’ part. As a facilitator, you may want to remind the group to follow the structure correctly in order to maximise its’ effectiveness.
❓How easy / difficult was it for you to stick to the 3-2-1-Go structure when you were the one giving feedback? Rate it on a scale from 1-10 (1= very difficult; 10= super easy).
❓How did it feel to receive feedback through the 3-2-1-Go structure? Did you notice any difference in how it felt to get feedback in this way, compared to how you may be used to receive feedback?
❓When and where could you practice applying the structure in your work life over the course of the following week?