Guidelines for Giving Feedback

Things to keep in mind when using the coach approach to giving feedback.

  • Before giving feedback, be sure there were clear agreements about goals, norms, roles and expectations.
  • Establish that the relationship has sufficient trust. Ask for permission to give feedback or at least prepare the team member that you need to share something that might be delicate or hard to hear.
  • Use a neutral demeanor – eliminate blame and judgment.  Be aware of non verbals and tone.  Practice using neutral language if this is a challenge.
  • Be timely – give feedback immediately or as quickly as possible (but not in the heat of the moment. If you cannot control your emotions, wait until you can before giving feedback).
  • Be relevant – feedback needs to be focused on moving forward, not about something in past that will never happen again.  Giving feedback about past events which are likely to re-occur serves no purpose and can damage the trust. 
  • Focus on behaviors that are within person’s control – beating people up for things outside of their control is unreasonable
  • Be specific and descriptive – describe the behaviors or data rather than giving generalizations. Do not drag in third party observations and do not give into demands for ‘what other people think’.  Remember you are the manager, and what matters is what you think.
  • Be open and ready for a variety of outcomes – if you are just giving feedback to be helpful, don’t expect gratitude or enthusiasm.  If there is a request, hopefully, the feedback will be received and acted upon. If so, pay attention to efforts and be ready to endorse and praise.  If there is a demand/requirement be ready to work with the person to assure compliance.  Discuss structure (when, how they will do what is needed), accountability (how will you and others know they are on track) and support (how can you and others help?).  Finally be ready to follow up with consequences for failure.

All Feedback material from Homan/Miller

2 thoughts on “Guidelines for Giving Feedback

  1. Wise words all round, but can I clarify? You write ‘Giving feedback about past events which are likely to re-occur serves no purpose and can damage the trust.’

    Do you mean UNlikely to re-occur?

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. It must just be a typo. Very solid advice, though. I want to share it with my leadership team. 😉

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