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Last updated January 3, 2017

Providing constructive feedback is a great way to help develop staff and volunteers, but it can sometimes be tricky to navigate if there are lots of things that need to be improved. The Pendleton Method is a simple way to give feedback in a constructive manner. The 4 steps are:

1. Invite your staff member or volunteer to tell you what they think went well / they did well.
Sometimes people struggle with this step. They might shrug their shoulders or use a phrase like ‘I Don’t Know’ or ‘Nothing Much’. Don’t let them off the hook. They need to find at least one thing they thought went well – no matter how small.

2. Acknowledge those successes and then add to them by saying “What I thought went well / you did well was….”
Reflect on the successes that they share, but then make a real effort to find other examples of things that went well. This shows your staff member or volunteer that you notice everything – not just the areas that need improvement.

3. Ask your staff member or volunteer if there was anything they would do differently next time.
Notice this question is not about what went wrong or what they could do better, it is simply about what they could do differently. This removes any judgement and makes the question simply about exploring options.

4. Acknowledge their ideas and add to them by saying “What I might have tried / done differently was…”
Providing examples of how you might do something simply adds to the options for next time. You are not necessarily saying this is the only way to do something, but you are suggesting it might be something worth trying.

One of the things that makes this method of feedback effective, is that it gives your staff member or volunteer an opportunity to carry out their own reflection first. In doing this, they will often highlight areas you want to address and it makes it much easier for you to offer constructive feedback and suggestions.

For more ideas and advice about Managing Volunteers, check out our workshop ‘Growing Great Volunteer Teams’.