5 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback

Giving feedback is one of the most important things a leader does for their team, yet many people shy away from this responsibility. If you don’t love giving feedback, perhaps a little practice and a lesson in doing it well will help you embrace this core leadership skill.

Extensive research by Google discovered that the single most important behavior of excellent managers was, “providing specific, constructive feedback, balancing negative and positive.”

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Other studies show that employees who receive consistent feedback from their managers perform up to 40% better than employees who receive no feedback.

The current use of the word “feedback” derives from signals used by ground controllers to help guide a rocket ship. As leaders, feedback is one our most powerful tools for helping guide our people to be more effective and accountable. There are many benefits from giving feedback.

  • Developing new skills and awareness in your people
  • Supporting staff to achieve key results
  • Promoting alignment within and across teams
  • Ensuring accountability and correcting unskillful behavior
  • Building effective partnerships
  • Creating and deepening trust

Delivering quality feedback is a crucial skill and our tool, How to Give Feedback, is designed to help you learn some best practices to hone it. We also have tools for How to Receive Feedback and Giving Groups Feedback. Download and study these resources to strengthen your leadership and improve your team’s performance.

Here are just a few of the tips you will find in our tool:

  1. Make a POP before giving feedback

If you’re not already familiar with the Fabulous POP Model, you should be. Before giving feedback, ask yourself:

What’s the Purpose of giving this feedback?

What specific Outcomes do you hope to see by giving this feedback?

And what Process will you use? How will you go about actually giving the feedback? What will you say? How will you ensure the other person feels heard?

  1. Feed-forward vs. feedback

While it’s sometimes necessary to give examples of behavior that didn’t work in the past, the purpose of feedback is to create a better future. Minimize time re-hashing the past and devote more time to talking about what you would like to see going forward.

  1. Consider the Martian anthropologist

Keep focused on behavior and its impact. Think of behavior as things that a Martian anthropologist observing the scene would be able to see and hear. Avoid making assumptions about someone else’s motivations and feelings—you’re not a mind-reader.

  1. The magic ratio

Too often, feedback ends up being primarily about critique. There is actually considerable research showing that the best performance is encouraged by a ratio of a minimum of four affirming, positive comments for every one piece of corrective feedback. The majority of your feedback should be pointing out what’s working! Don’t shy away from proactively and forthrightly addressing what needs improving, but if you are not hitting the magic 4 to 1 ratio, you probably need to be giving more (positive) feedback!

  1. The unspoken secret

So much of human communication is non-verbal. It’s not just our words—It’s our tone of voice, body language, and energy. If we feel uncomfortable giving corrective feedback our heart closes, our body contracts, our voice becomes tight, and we give off anxious energy. The person to whom we’re about to give feedback will pick up our discomfort, and may start to feel threatened even before we open our mouths. The likelihood of a defensive response goes way up.

The secret of giving potentially hard feedback is to stay relaxed, keep your heart open, and stay present and connected to the receiver of your feedback.

Download How to Give Feedback for the complete set of best practices, and check out our whole collection of resources for giving and receiving feedback for individuals and teams.

Developing your skill in the art of feedback is one of the most important investments you can make in your success as a leader and agent of change.

Now… repeat after me.

I LOVE giving feedback!

I LOVE giving feedback!

I LOVE giving feedback!