A Marlow Workshop



Delivering, Asking for, and Receiving Feedback More Effectively

Effective feedback is 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 or need.

Often, team members 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.

What is Feedback

It's information that helps one person learn the perspective of another person in any given situation. It can be verbal or nonverbal, communicated directly or indirectly and can be intentional or unintentional.

Good Feedback vs. Bad Feedback

“Good” feedback is productive while “bad” feedback is unproductive.

Productive feedback

  • Clarifies good performance - where am I going, what is the goal?

  • Develops the ability for reflection and self-assessment

  • Encourages dialogue around learning

  • Delivers high-quality information about where to go next

  • Encourages positive reinforcement increasing self‐esteem and motivation

  • Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance

Unproductive feedback

  • Attacks personality or character

  • Is emotionally driven
    Based on our bias

  • Unintentional or is misdirected (i.e., body language can sometimes lead to unintentional feedback)

  • Vague
    Unsaid - “Protective Hesitation” is the failure to give feedback due to worry that the recipient might be upset.

Good Feedback (1) describes the situation, (2) describes the impact and (3) elicits a conversation to find the behavior to reinforce.

How Are You Delivering Feedback?

Feedback can be delivered in a variety of ways. Effective feedback is thoughtfully considered, intentional, and strategically and situationally delivered. It should be informed by the skill and the will of your counterpart, their preferences for receiving feedback and often with the premise that the intention is to help.

Examples of good feedback

Source: Learning to Deliver Feedback Effectively

Job Performance Feedback

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Reputational Feedback

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Career Feedback

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Feedback from Others

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Feedback Frameworks

Besides situational leadership, there are specific feedback deliver frameworks you may want to try:

Situation Behavior Impact (SBI)

This model while seemingly clear can be very challenging to execute. You identify and state the when, the what and the why.

  1. Identify the situation. When

  2. Describe the behavior. What

  3. Explain its impact. Why


Original:Last week you were disorganized. You need to do better.

SBI approach:  During yesterday morning’s team meeting, when you gave your presentation, you were uncertain about two of the slides, and your sales calculations were incorrect. I felt embarrassed because the entire board was there. I’m worried that this has affected the reputation of our team.

Tools for Wording

The models below present updated terms to talk about feedback. Terms that are less reactive and present for more open communication on the topic. They both allow the person delivering to share more openly and allow the person receiving to feel more comfortable in the reception.

GE Model

GE designed a feedback model to encourage continuous discussion around enhancing performance. They found that by changing the language they used while discussing performance they were able to frame feedback in a more positive way and focus on forward-looking behavior changes. The focus is on

  • Behaviors to continue

  • Changes to behavior to consider making

Stanford Model

Coined by the Stanford design school this simple method gives statements to allow for open feedback specifically on a process. Each person in the discussion simply finishes the statements:

  • What do they like from what occurred

  • What do they wish would occur

  • What if something else occurred

The SKS Form

This framework is three simple questions to consider what is working, where you have opportunities to grow, and what needs to change. Consider asking yourself or others these questions to deliver or receive feedback.

  • (S) Stop -What should I stop doing?

  • (K) Keep -What should I keep doing?

  • (S) Start - What should I start doing?

The Feedback Grid

The feedback grid is intended to be a systematic and intentional way of capturing feedback in real time and breaking it down into useful components in a grid. The idea is to identify:

  • What worked?

  • What should be changed?

  • Questions? Ideas?

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Non Violent Communication

We express our feelings in terms of what another person has ‘done to us.’.:[NVC is] a way of being very honest, without any criticism, insults, or put-downs.”— Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

The idea is to express what we observed, define how it made us feel, the need we are trying to fulfill and the resulting request.

When [observation], I feel [emotion] because I’m needing some [universal needs]. Would you be able to [request]?


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Radical Candor

This approach is the mix between directly challenging what has occurred while truly caring about the person you are communicating too. The premise of this approach is to care and be direct. When either of these is lacking the communication may not be as effective.

How to Select a Framework


  • Timing

  • Person

  • Situation

  • Desired Outcome

  • Design thinking

Best Practices 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 using 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)?

Resetting when things are moving forward: If you have been giving feedback for a while and have noticed that it's not working, it may be time to reset. Resetting can mean strengthening your relationship, building trust and establishing a mutual goal and intent - aligning on the understanding that the reason for giving and receiving feedback is for shared benefit.

Receiving and Asking for Feedback

How we receive feedback is actually more important than how feedback is given”  –Stone&Heen

Steps to Receive Feedback Well

  • Engage in conversation

  • Make a thoughtful choice to use the information

  • Manage your emotional triggers

  • Be open to see yourself in new ways

  • Setting boundaries

Triggers to Receiving Feedback

Stone & Heen identify specific triggers that prevent us from fully receiving feedback because they impact how we judge and understand the feedback.

  • Truth triggers - this feedback is just wrong or perfect

  • Relationship triggers - what we believe about the giver, how we feel we are treated by them

  • Identity triggers - our sense of who we are

Best Practices for Asking for Feedback

Have a Clear Purpose: Consider why you are asking for feedback, what your goal is and what you hope to accomplish as a result of getting feedback.

Set the Stage: Define when and how you would like to receive the feedback. “I would love your thoughts on my presentation during our 1:1

Ask Detailed Questions: The more specific questions you ask, the easier it is for your counterpart to give you feedback the aligns with your goal for feedback. For example:

  • What were your key takeaways from my presentation?

  • How do you feel my team is making progress?

  • What are your concerns in our ability to hit our goals?

  • What do you want to see more of in future presentations

Be Thoughtful About Your Response: Consider your triggers. Use active listening techniques to engage and make sure you hear what is being communicated.

Confirm Takeaways: Repeat back the learning and takeaways you are hearing to ensure alignment.

Follow-up: Even if you don't end up using the feedback, show gratitude.