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Five practical steps to give effective feedback

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

What is feedback, and where it’s originating from?

Feedback is information about reactions to a product or a person’s performance of a task which is used as a basis for improvement. (Oxford)

Positive feedback is usually considered as appraisal and acknowledgement, and negative is generally received as criticism. Yet, as bitter as feedback sometimes is, it is crucial to personal, professional, and organizational growth.

In the following lines, you will find five practical steps to communicate feedback, so it comes effectively through and positively impacts the person receiving it.

1) Keep the purpose in mind - The primary purpose of giving feedback is to help that person improve her/his performance and develop. In such cases, there is a benevolent and positive intention behind it, and if we learn how best to pass it on, it will significantly affect the recipient. So, if you consider yourself a “real” leader, a “great” coach or anyone in a supporting role whose job is to help others grow, ask yourself why you are giving feedback and remind yourself of the purpose of what you are doing.

2) Always start with appraisal and acknowledging the effort - Focus on what has been done and delivered. In doing so, you create a positive and nurturing environment.

3) Give clear, concrete, and candid feedback - Some managers tend not to give crystal-clear feedback and expect their employees to read between the lines. There may be various justifications for this approach. But remember, giving constructive and candid feedback is the most critical job of a leader. So give your honest feedback and explain what needs to be improved and by when.

4) Co-create the growth/improvement plan – Help the person receiving the feedback understand what the improvement goal is, how they want to achieve it, and what they need to be successful. Provide them with the required resources and help them craft their growth and improvement roadmap.

5) Check-in regularly – Schedule (bi-) weekly sessions and be there with your entire presence during the sessions. Ask about their efforts, plans, challenges, and where they stand. Learn about how they progress on their improvement trajectory and if any adjustment is needed. This can take up to one hour of your weekly schedule. But 100% worth it!

Keep in mind feedback is a challenge, yet if it comes with the proper support, it can significantly enhance the performance of the person receiving it! Without such a challenge, we all end up in the so-called cosy club or, even worse, a state of inertia. To move to the loving boot, the most favourable place to flourish and grow, a high level of challenge and support are required simultaneously.

(Support/Challenge Matrix from Ian Day’s and John Blakey’s Book, Challenging Coaching)

In the next blog, the focus will be on how to receive feedback. Stay tuned!

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