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Giving Effective Feedback

Feedback can be really tough both for the giver and the receiver. If handled badly, with poor preparation and a total lack of emotional intelligence, it can do a lot of damage. However, constructive feedback delivered with integrity and a genuine intention can be the greatest gift you can give to another individual. It can provide significant development opportunities and specific insights into an individual reaching their full potential.

Coaching and continuous feedback is listed as a key trend in the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2017 report, and research conducted by Gallup into millennials (those born between 1980 and 1996) and reported in How Millennials Want to Work and Live highlights their requirement for continuous feedback in order to develop their strengths. Millennials are passionate about their career development and see their managers as coaches who care about it, too.

The relationship between manager and an employee represents a vital link in performance management. Communication and effective influencing is crucial for that relationship to succeed.

Regular, constructive feedback is a key facet in leaders/managers developing and nurturing the talent in their teams which drives significant performance improvement. Too often, feedback is stored up and given in an end-of-year performance review as part of the feedback sandwich – praise/criticism/praise.

Elements of successful feedback


One of the most significant elements of successful feedback is the frequency. It is so important to keep it regular – ideally on a weekly basis. It does not have to be a very formal process; a simple check-in over coffee can be very effective.

Be specific

When giving feedback, aim to be as specific as possible. For example, you might refer to an instance where they didn’t participate in a meeting or listen to someone else’s point of view.

Focus on the behaviour, not the person. Refer to the behaviour exhibited only and be sure not to make it seem like a personal attack. Using the SBI model (situations, behaviour, impact) can be really useful and keeps the feedback objective.


High levels of trust and respect must exist to give and receive feedback. Be aware of how trust is being nurtured in the overall relationship.


The intention of feedback is for the recipient to learn, move forward and become a better employee. It’s rooted in genuine concern for the person – it is not to score points!


Be aware of emotions during the conversation. Be aware of how you are delivering your message and how the person receiving feedback is taking it. Are they defensive or upset? Acknowledge your intention and the reason for the feedback. Acknowledge their emotions. When an employer feels high levels of trust and the want to develop their career further, they are more likely to receive feedback in a positive way and learn from it.

Mutual understanding

The objective of providing feedback is to get to a mutual understanding – not to prove someone right or wrong. Identify your contribution to the issue. This will build trust and your ability to influence.


Don’t use the word “BUT” when delivering constructive criticism. When “but” is used in a conversation, it negates everything that was said prior to it! Instead, try to end the conversation with positive reinforcement and a commitment to agreeing the next steps forward.

Constructive feedback handled well is the greatest gift both for the giver and receiver. It takes commitment and practice but can be very rewarding.

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