The feedback review model is a simple 2×2 matrix mapping feedback against positivity and expectancy. Positive feedback should be celebrated if expected and habituated if unexpected. Negative feedback should be acted on if expected and explored if unexpected.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The Feedback Review Matrix

Getting feedback is only part of the challenge we face in our self development. Once we have received feedback we need to review it, understand it and think about how to act on it. The feedback review matrix a good tool that makes this analysis process a bit easier.

The Feedback Review Matrix

The tool itself is simply a 2×2 matrix with positivity of feedback on the vertical axis and expectancy of feedback on the horizontal axis. By placing the range of feedback received into this matrix it becomes easier to spot outliers and identify blind-spots. It’s also easier to pick out key points to focus on and to design an action plan based on your feedback.

When feedback is positive and expected we should celebrate it, when it’s negative and expected we should act on it, when it’s positive and unexpected we should habituate it, and if it’s negative and unexpected we explore it before doing anything else with it.

Using the Feedback Review Matrix

Actually using the model is quite a straight forward process. All you need to do is to get the feedback points that you’ve receive in and place them into the matrix. If you’ve received many feedback comments, it is probably worth grouping them thematically before placing them on the matrix.

It’s worth noting that you can use the matrix for feedback you’ve received as an individual, or as a team. Similarly, if you are a line manger, you can use this matrix as a means to analyze the feedback you’ve received in relation to the members of your team before having conversations with them. Doing so might help you prioritize and understand key messages to deliver.

The act of reviewing and placing your feedback into the right containers is helpful.

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Next Steps

Once you’ve understood, grouped and placed the feedback you’re analyzing into the model you then need to act appropriately for each group of feedback.

Positive and expected feedback:

Celebrate it – Celebrate the things that you know you do well and ensure keep doing them. These may form the foundations of your career. 

Negative and expected feedback:

Change it – Design an action plan, set SMART objectives and request frequent feedback to help you change these behaviors. You may wish to move away from these tasks in your future career, if possible.

Positive and unexpected feedback:

Habituate it – Validate this feedback to make sure it’s not just a one off comment from a single individual. If the feedback is valid, set goals and get feedback to help you turn these behaviors into habits and routines. You may have a new skill for your future career.

The Feedback Review Matrix says you might want to throw feedback away
Validate your feedback. Some might belong in here.

Negative and unexpected feedback:

Explore it – After validating this feedback, explore it in detail to gain a deeper understanding if it. Do you have a blind-spot? What do others think? What is the impact? After your exploration, act accordingly to either change yourself so that this doesn’t happen any more, or change your career, so you don’t face this problem any more.

Learning More

Those of you who have spoken to us will know we have pretty strong views on feedback. We understand that receiving feedback well can be difficult and that feedback can feel like a social threat. We also know that receiving feedback can be triggering, causing our amygdala responses (fight or flight) to kick in. Given this, we think it’s good to focus on learning to receive feedback well before focusing on giving feedback well.

There are several posts in this site on various feedback tools and models which might be helpful. These include 360 degree feedback, the stop, start continue framework and the COIN model. There are also some tools we think you should avoid, including the feedback sandwich.

Our second podcast on feedback might also be helpful. In it we have a conversation with a feedback specialist, Joe Hirsch. You can listen to it below.

The World of Work Project View

Feedback Review Matrix is a very simple model that helps individuals think about the feedback they receive. It works equally well for teams. It’s most effective when individuals or teams have a fair amount of feedback to work with.

The advice the model provides about how to respond to the different types of feedback is fairly helpful, but in reality the largest benefit of the model is in helping individuals think about frame their feedback and giving them a framework through which to spend more time considering it.

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This post is based on our own personal experience and general research there are no specific references for it. If you spot someone that this should be attributed to, please do let us know.

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