Not All Feedback is Equal – Types of Feedback

When a manager decides to use ‘a coach approach’ it is important to remember that employees, especially in more traditional corporate or national cultures, are used to hearing a suggestion or request as an order . You need to ascertain your intention before speaking up.

If you are you giving feedback to influence specific results, you can just keep your manager hat on and proceed with business as usual. If your feedback is intended to enhance the employee’s development, you can put on your ‘coach hat’.   Be clear with yourself and your employee, you will avoid all kinds of confusion.

[For more detail on the distinction between Manager and Coach see Coaching in Organizations by Homan and Miller, Wiley 2008]

1.  Informative feedback – information for the person’s awareness and/or growth, but not mandatory. The manager coach can ask for permission to share this kind of feedback and should expect no specific outcome from sharing this.

Example: “You might make more of an impact if you used your voice more powerfully in your presentations.”

 2. Feedback that includes a request – information that would benefit the person, but is not a demand. The manager coach can give feedback and make a request that is clearly a suggestion and negotiable. 

Example: “You might make more of an impact if you use your voice more powerfully – would you be willing to practice with me before the next presentation to the committee?”

 3. Feedback that addresses a requirement/demand – sharing information about something that is considered part of the job and needs immediate attention.

Example: “The presentation to the board has to be flawless.  Your presentation is not quite as powerful as it needs to be. You need coaching and practice, lets figure out how to make it happen right away.”

Next post:  Guidelines for giving feedback.

Note:  All feedback material originally created with Linda J. Miller

3 thoughts on “Not All Feedback is Equal – Types of Feedback

  1. Ken,

    Thanks for this post. The three types of feedback you suggest help take the pressure off. With adequate lead time we can use #1 and #2 most frequently.

    Without enough lead time we’ll be leading from behind and frequently using #3.

    Here’s a blog your readers may enjoy that focuses on the other side of feedback. Receiving it.

    Criticize Me –

    All the best,

    Leadership Freak
    Dan Rockwell

  2. Positive feed is a powerful technique to direct behavior and actions in specific a direction in a specific situation to help achieve better results. Focusing on what went well and what good it had is essential to help the person understand the importance of continuously doing the desired behaviors & actions.

    For what went wrong, describing what happened, the facts (without being negative and finger pointing, ex: you did this or you said that…or sounding blaming), helps the person understand why that behavior or action was not the best used in that specific situation and how the results could have be different.

    It is unfortunate that managers these days live under the impression that they can’t do that, or have no time to spend with their people to walk them through the thinking process, and many other reasons that by end of the day lead to one thing, demoralizing their people who might their best performers.

    Building a positive feedback culture means focusing the energy on what went well and how it helps everyone and ignoring what went wrong.


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