Benefits of Giving Regular Feedback

Effective feedback is a key to unlocking potential in your team members and helping them develop as professionals. Yet according to Gallup, most individuals aren’t receiving the feedback they want.

So why is this? On the one hand, many individuals aren’t trained to ask for feedback in an effective manner. On the other hand, managers often fall short of delivering timely and constructive feedback.

Today’s newsletter focuses on how managers can (1) deliver feedback more effectivelyand (2) coach their team members to regularly solicit and apply feedback in order to make progress toward their professional goals.

The Power of Feedback

By getting in the habit of providing regular feedback, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the professional growth of your team members. In return, you will be better equipped to create a stronger, more capable, and more engaged team. 

Discussing feedback will help you bridge the gap between perception and reality. When delivered in a thoughtful way, feedback has the power to help your team members understand how to meet and exceed their objectives by clarifying direction, priorities, and expectations for success. 

How Are You Delivering Feedback?

Effective feedback is thoughtfully considered, intentional, and strategically delivered. In order for the feedback you deliver to be useful to the receiver, you need to consider more than what you are saying. You must consider howwhen, and to whomyou are communicating. 

That is to say, effective feedback is delivered situationally - taking into account that each situation and individual likely call for a different style of communication or approach to feedback.

Your team members all have unique personalities, workstyles, values, and goals. Similarly, you as a leader likely have a certain leadership or management style that impacts how you approach situations and how you communicate. Consider which of the following leadership styles align most closely with your approach to communication. 

Are you generally:

  • Authoritative: Directive in process and decision-making

  • Coaching: Guided autonomy

  • Laissez-Faire: Laid back, allowing your team members to be autonomous

  • Democratic: Majority rules, everyone has a vote but the majority takes all

  • Consensus-Based: Decisions based on everyone's agreement

Imagine, for example, that you are giving feedback on a project. A coaching styleapproach could be: “We discussed the project and agreed that it would look like ABC. What are your thoughts on the final results? What if anything would you want to change next time?

Alternatively, an authoritative approach would be: “The project went well in ABC ways and could have been improved for next time in XYZ ways”.

For feedback to be most effective, your leadership style should shift according to the situation. It should take into account the individual with whom you are communicating with.

Below are examples of three different approaches to discussing expectations around a project.

  • Coaching:How do you plan to reach your goal of completing the next project on time?

  • Authoritative: “Next time you need to plan ahead to complete the project on time by doing XYZ.

  • Democratic:How do you think others would feel about the result of the project? Can we agree as a group to complete these on time?”

To determine the appropriate delivery style of feedback, it is essential to consider your goals for the feedback, the person’s workstyle, and urgency of the situation.

How to Deliver Feedback Effectively

Below are a few ideas to deliver feedback more effectively:

Plan Ahead: Discuss your team members preferences for feedback ahead of time. Schedule time to discuss feedback and time to debrief on the success of projects. These types of meetings work well for big projects but can also add value to smaller projects (i.e., one-off presentations). Many managers find it useful to build time for feedback into 1:1s with direct reports. In this way, everyone has the same expectations for when and how feedback will be delivered and there are no surprises.

Be Specific: Feedback is less effective when it only includes an adjective and an adverb. For example, "You did really well on the data project!" Instead, consider specific actions or behaviors that you want to reinforce or change. When possible, list the impact of those behaviors. "Your attention to detail and accuracy in the data reporting for this project allowed us to be more effective in our decision making and complete the project on time. Great job!"

Coach Your Team to Manage Up: Sometimes as managers we move too quickly and forget to provide constructive feedback. Encourage your team members to dig a little deeper - even when the feedback is positive. They can do this by soliciting feedback more thoughtfully. For example, instead of asking “How was my presentation?” they should ask for more specific feedback, such as:"Was my presentation effective in providing a thorough update?"

Create a Safe Space: Be mindful of your reactions and remember that feedback can cause reactions in your team member. Even when it’s directly asked for, receiving critical feedback can be tough. Try to observe your team member’s physical reactions and build a safe place to discuss areas for growth. For example, if they respond with a strong emotional reaction, give them the time and space to collect their thoughts.

Be Mindful of Your Delivery: Consider if your delivery style will serve your intended outcome. Which leadership or management style will be most effective for the case at hand? Are you delivering following the radical candor approach (i.e., clear, straightforward, to the point), in a coaching method (i.e., asking questions allowing them to determine the problem and coach them through an answer), as an authoritarian (i.e., telling them what went wrong and how to fix it), in a democratic way (i.e., giving them options on solutions, taking in a variety of opinions), or in a laissez-faire way (i.e., casually mentioning it offhand)?

What You Can Do Today

For your next 1:1’s with your team members consider the following:

  • Do you know how that individual prefers to receive feedback and have you discussed their preferences?

  • How do you normally discuss feedback? Which management style do you follow?

  • Have you agreed on processes for how you will discuss feedback?

  • Do you have a relationship built in trust to withstand critical feedback?

  • Are expectations clear around the work, performance, norms or behaviors for which you want to give feedback on?

If you can’t answer these questions, consider discussing them in your next 1:1.


If you want to read more about feedback and feedback strategies check out these great resources. 

Get the Actionable Feedback You Need to Get Promoted (HBR) - This article is on asking for actionable feedback. We recommend sharing this with your team to get a conversation going around feedback preferences.

Radical Candor Overview - A candid approach to delivering feedback. "Radical Candor is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time".

A Culture of Feedback: Making it Tangible(HuffPost) - “So how do you create consistent behaviors around feedback, and encourage people to trust each other enough to share openly and often? We’ve collected several examples of tangible ways that companies are doing exactly that.”

The Importance of Early Feedback for New Employees (Small Improvements Blog) - Covers reasons why it's is important to instill a culture of feedback right from the start.

How to Give Feedback People Can Actually Use(HBR) - This article discusses how you can give feedback that helps someone learn and improve.