7 Top Tips For Giving Feedback


by Kevin Watson



Over the years, I’ve seen some great examples of giving feedback…and some not so good!

I’ve also been subjected to both good and bad in my time as an employee.

The sad thing is, I’ve probably experienced far more bad examples than good. It seems managers and supervisors are expected to be good at giving feedback from the moment they’re appointed – as if it’s a natural consequence of being a leader.

Although some may have this innate skill, most do not. The good news is that these skills can be learned and applied using simple to understand frameworks.

So, I thought I’d share one example with you, with some useful techniques we can all use when giving feedback.

1. Ask Open-Ended Questions

To encourage the person to give more detail and elaborate, use questions that start with words like What, How, Who and Tell me.

Avoid closed questions when you are trying to get more information from someone.

Also, be careful when you use the word Why. The other person may think that you are blaming, disagreeing or being critical if you use it.

2. Reflecting Back

Put into your own words what the other person has said to reflect it back. This is called paraphrasing and by doing this it shows that you are listening and more importantly that you are listening and understanding! For example:

Other person: “I always seem to get the rough end of the stick – no-one listens to me at all!.”

You: “You seem concerned that no-one listens to you and that you seem to be getting a dumb deal.”

3. Maintaining Silence

Keep quiet once you have asked a question and always give the other person time to think through their reply to a challenging answer.

Do not feel uncomfortable about silences but do be wary that silence can make people feel very uncomfortable. Use appropriate non-verbal cues and demonstrate interest.

4. Summarising

To ensure that you have heard correctly and understood from his / her perspective. Restate the key aspects of the feedback and focus on planning for the future. For example:

“The three major issues you raised were…” or “To summarise then…”

5. Being Sensitive

To the needs of the person your giving feedback to. This is important as he/she may reject the feedback initially. Give the person space to think in his/her time. This may help the person to absorb the feedback.

6. Initiating Action and Offering Ideas

To offer ideas without forcing your personal opinion. For example:

“Can you think of an action that would help build on your skills in this area?”, or

“One thing you might do is…”, or

“Have you thought about…”

7. Gaining Ownership

Integrate the feedback into their own experience. Also, link the feedback as much as possible to business results and objectives – this will help increase ownership.

Any change in behaviour will only occur through acceptance and ownership of the feedback by that person.

Perhaps you can have a go with these techniques the next time you’re giving feedback to one of your team.

Let me know how you get on.


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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.



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