Giving More Effective Feedback

Posted by Guthrie-Jensen Consultants

Giving Feedback

The need to give feedback to colleagues is an important part of a professional’s daily work.  It is given to praise a person’s performance.  It is also a corrective tool that allows managers and supervisors to discipline their people.

Of course, feedback is not only a tool for downward communication.  Feedback is given upward, when, for example, team members update their managers regarding delivery of projects.  It is also given in the context of lateral communication, when colleagues give feedback to each other, positive or negative.

Professionals agree that clear and assertive feedback  is a critical part of a healthy, productive workplace.  But during times of conflict, the challenge is developing the actual script to use.  Professionals find feedback giving challenging in written form, and even more in the context of spoken communication.  Professionals also find occasional challenges when feedback is met with resistance – even when the message has been delivered professionally.

To deliver feedback professionally and produce the desired results, the message needs to be planned carefully each time it is given.  It is best to make a script or guide that will help deliver feedback in an assertive and organized manner.

Here are four tips on how to structure your feedback:

  • State the problem clearly and objectively. Start your feedback with a clear description of the situation.   The most ideal statement of the problem is one that is based on facts, policies, and specific details.  Use solid facts to show that the message has basis.
  • Probe and say how you feel.  Ask questions to understand the problem more.  This is also a one’s opportunity to tell the receiver feelings on the problem at hand.  In saying how you feel, avoid accusatory language such as:
    • “You did this to me.”  Recommendation: “I observed that…”
    • “I blame you for this” Recommendation: “I believe this was caused by…”
    • “You made me look like a fool…”  Recommendation: “I felt embarrassed…”
  • Confirm agreements and move towards action. Specify the specific action one wishes to happen and provide a time frame.  The main point of giving feedback is getting a specific action item done.
  • Sell the WIFM – “What’s in it for me?”  To minimize, if not eliminate resistance, sell the benefit of the suggested action to the recipient of the feedback.


  • State the problem clearly and objectively: HR has notified me that you came in late thrice this week.  As you know, the company has a policy on tardiness and suspends employees who are late five times in a month.
  • Probe and say how you feel: I am worried about this.  I don’t want you to get suspended.  I also know that ever since you joined the company, punctuality has been one of your strongest points.
  • Confirm agreements and move to action: I trust that starting tomorrow you will come to work on time.
  • Sell the WIFM: This will ensure that you have a good record with HR.

The need for listening. Throughout the dialogue, both parties must make a decision to actively listen.  This requires professionals to set emotions and judgment aside until all facts have been laid on the table.   When emotions are in the way of professional dialogue, many professionals opt to let some time pass before a meeting is held.  However, the hot-stove rule must also be followed.  This means that feedback should still be given immediately, to communicate the right sense of urgency.

Use the right channel.  The channel of communication also needs to be considered in giving feedback.  Face-to-face communication is a preferred channel because it allows parties to understand the situation more fully, given that they would be able to have a better grasp of feelings.  Given this day and age of managing from remote offices, however, professionals accept that face-to-face dialogue is not always an available option.  Other channels such as the phone, email, and conference call are alternative channels.  When using these channels, professionals need to double their effort in ensuring that their message both in terms of content and feeling, is easily understood.

5-Day MBA CTA Banner

Leave a reply

Experience the Guthrie-Jensen Advantage today.

Inquire Now