Feedback lessons from American Idol


For those following this season of ‘Idol’, you’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly (speaking of performances) of what America has to offer in terms of singing talent.  What you have also heard are a number of very good examples of what NOT to do when providing feedback.

I know this is a TV show, and that the judges are there to JUDGE, but I wonder what the contestants really get out of the information shared after their performance.  Here’s what I mean…

Feedback is judgmental.  Again, I know it’s a TV show and they are supposed to judge the performance, but often it comes off as preachy and down right mean.  I think this happens when you lead with emotions and assigning “good” and “bad” labels to things, or talking about what you liked or didn’t like.  Immediately puts most people in a defensive mode.

Feedback not based on specific behaviors.  It bugs me when they say there were some pitch problems, or the performance was pitchy (which isn’t a word, by the way), without following up on where or when that happened.  How is the artist supposed to know what circumstances caused the pitch issues in the first place?  They also usually use vague terms that don’t mean much when you really think about them.

Feedback that contradicts itself.  I don’t know how many times we’ve heard the judges say be yourself, make the song your own, and then in the same breath say that you shouldn’t change a classic song so much – which is it??  Nothing like a mixed message to keep the performers guessing.  Not such a big surprise when they come back the next week and haven’t improved.

Feedback for improvement in public.  This is the ultimate public setting.  We’ve often heard (and said) to praise in public, correct in private.  (Even that can be tricky, but it’s a good rule of thumb.)  While the contestants KNOW this is part of the show, it can’t make it feel any better.

You are probably all way ahead of me when it comes to what to take away from this.  We’ll transport ourselves to the Bizarro World and do the exact opposite of the American Idol judges.

It may not get us on TV, but it will help make sure our employees have the information they need.

Thanks for reading!!

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