Six Steps for Giving Good Feedback

Six Steps for Giving Good Feedback

We’ve all heard the saying “feedback is a gift.” If that’s true, why is it so uncomfortable for many of us to give feedback? While interpersonal interactions are complex and sometimes unpredictable, we increase the chance for success, and our own confidence, by following a proven model. Here’s one we’ve found to be particularly effective.

1. State your concern and the reasons for it. Speak for yourself as you convey your concern; what is the impact of the behavior? Suppose you’re a field office with the responsibility for implementing a new organization wide program in your region, and you’ve noticed that an important reporting requirement is not being met. When giving feedback to the person responsible, start by identifying the specific issue. You might say something like, “I’m concerned the Secretary’s office is going to feel we’re not committed to the new program”.

2. Describe your specific observation. The key here is to describe a specific behavior while not voicing a conclusion about that behavior. “I see that the last three weekly reports have gone in late” is a statement of fact, and is far less likely to create defensiveness than saying, “It’s so irresponsible to not meet your deadlines.” Keep comments focused on specific behaviors and the facts of the issue.

3. Ask for a reaction. Remember, feedback should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Be open to the possibility that there is a good explanation for the behavior, an important piece of information that you haven’t considered, or that your perspective may not be the right one. “What’s causing the reports to go in late ?” asked respectfully, will give you insight into why the situation is occurring. You should get to this point in the model in less than 1 minute. You want the person receiving the feedback to do most of the talking and to own the solution.

4. Ask for a solution. Keep in mind that if the recipient suggests the solution, he or she is more likely to be committed to it. “What can we do to prevent this in the future?”

5. Create an action plan for change. Make it a collaborative one. “I like your plan to block out time on your calendar Wednesday mornings to complete the report and submit it to me by 3:00PM that day I’ll have Janice cover the phones during that two hour block .”

6. Express your support. “If you have problems, please remember I’m here to help. Come talk to me and we can figure out how to solve the problem together.”

The more you use this model, the more comfortable you’ll get with it. And …the people you give feedback to will see that receiving it from you isn’t painful or something to avoid. Ultimately, it is the feedback delivered skillfully that will be received as a true gift.

To watch a short video snapshot on giving feedback click on the link below or for more information on building your feedback skills contact Alli Christie at

Leadership Snapshot on Giving Feedback: