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Leadership Development

How to Give Feedback That Works: Strategies and Examples

Leadership Development

How to Give Feedback That Works: Strategies and Examples

Navigate check-in conversations confidently and professionally by learning the principles of effective feedback.
Published on
June 12, 2024

The art of effective communication is the backbone of any thriving personal or professional relationship. In the workplace, providing constructive feedback during check-ins is essential for nurturing employee growth, enhancing performance, and cultivating a harmonious work environment. The Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 76% of employees consider feedback critical to job satisfaction and engagement. However, delivering feedback is a delicate skill that demands finesse and sensitivity.

Managers also play a pivotal role in shaping the feedback culture within their teams. By actively seeking and receptively receiving feedback from their direct reports, managers can gain valuable insights into employee perspectives, identify areas for improvement, and foster a sense of trust and collaboration. When gathered and implemented effectively, feedback for managers can lead to enhanced leadership skills, improved decision-making, and a more engaged and productive workforce.

The Benefits of Feedback in the Workplace

A feedback-rich workplace culture yields many benefits for both employees and organisations. When feedback is embraced as a tool for growth and development, it can lead to:

  • Enhanced employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Improved individual and team performance
  • Strengthened communication and collaboration
  • Increased problem-solving and decision-making capabilities
  • A more positive and supportive work environment.

Integrating Feedback into Workplace Practices

Feedback should not be confined to performance reviews or annual evaluations; it should be an integral part of everyday interactions in the workplace. Regular check-ins, one-on-one meetings, and informal discussions allow managers and employees to exchange feedback, address concerns promptly, and celebrate successes. By embedding feedback into daily work routines, organisations can foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

We dive into how to provide effective feedback during check-ins below,  empowering managers and employees to navigate these conversations confidently and professionally. By understanding the nuances of feedback delivery, we can foster a culture of open communication, continuous improvement, and mutual respect.‍

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Be Specific and Constructive

Constructive feedback is designed to accelerate learners' development. Effective feedback should be specific and constructive. Instead of vague statements like, "You're doing a good job," or just “Well done”, provide specific examples of what the person did well and how it positively impacted the team or project. Likewise, if there are areas for improvement, offer concrete suggestions for how to make those improvements. Avoid criticism that doesn't offer a growth path.

Examples of Specific and Constructive Feedback 

Performance Review:  "You consistently meet project deadlines and deliver high-quality work. To further enhance your performance, consider proactively seeking opportunities to lead projects and contribute innovative ideas."

Team Collaboration: "During team meetings, you actively participate and provide valuable insights. To improve teamwork, balance your speaking time with active listening and encourage others to share their perspectives."

Customer Service: “Your ability to handle difficult customer inquiries is impressive, and customers often praise your patience. To enhance your customer service even further, consider seeking additional training in handling complex issues to increase customer satisfaction."

Presentation Skills: "Your presentation was well-structured, and you effectively used visual aids to support your points. To become an even more compelling presenter, work on your pacing and engage the audience through more eye contact and interactive elements."

Time Management: "You consistently meet your daily task deadlines and maintain an organised workspace. To improve time management, consider setting long-term goals and breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps for better productivity."

Writing Skills: "Your reports are clear, concise, and free from grammatical errors. To elevate your writing skills, focus on injecting more creativity into your content and consider peer or professional editing to refine your work."

Conflict Resolution: "In the recent team conflict, you remained calm and actively listened to all parties involved. To become an even more effective mediator, practice summarising the key issues and facilitating collaborative solutions."

Leadership Skills: "You have a knack for motivating your team, and they respond well to your guidance. To further develop your leadership skills, consider mentoring junior team members and seeking leadership training opportunities."

Sales Performance: "Your sales figures have consistently exceeded targets, and your clients appreciate your in-depth product knowledge. To continue excelling in sales, focus on expanding your client base by proactively identifying and reaching out to potential customers."

Use the Feedback Sandwich

The feedback sandwich is a technique for sandwiching constructive criticism between two positive comments. While it can be helpful in some situations, overusing it can dilute the impact of your feedback and make it seem insincere. Reserve this approach for when it genuinely fits the feedback context.

Example of Feedback Sandwich for Employee Performance Review

Positive Comment 1: "John, I want to acknowledge that your dedication to your tasks is commendable. You consistently meet deadlines and handle routine assignments efficiently."

Constructive Feedback: "However, I've noticed room for improvement in your communication with the team. There have been instances where you could have been more proactive in sharing project updates."

Positive Comment 2: "On the bright side, your technical skills are exceptional, and you've played a vital role in the successful completion of recent projects."

Be Empathetic and Respectful

Remember that feedback can be emotional, and it's essential to approach the conversation with empathy and respect. Acknowledge the person's feelings, and avoid making judgments or assumptions about their intentions. Use "I" statements to express how you feel about the situation rather than placing blame.

Encourage Two-Way Communication

Effective feedback is a dialogue, not a monologue. Encourage the person receiving feedback to share their perspective and feelings about the situation. This open exchange can lead to a better understanding of each other's viewpoints and foster collaboration.

Focus on Behavior, Not Personality

When giving feedback, concentrate on specific behaviours and actions rather than making personal judgments. For instance, instead of saying, "You're lazy," say, "I noticed that you missed several deadlines last month." This shift in focus keeps the conversation objective and avoids damaging relationships.

Example of Behavior-focused feedback

"In team meetings, I've noticed that you often interrupt your colleagues when they speak, and you tend to dominate the conversation. This behaviour can make it challenging for others to express their ideas and feel heard during our discussions. Working on actively listening and allowing others to finish their thoughts will lead to more productive and inclusive meetings.

In this feedback, the emphasis is on specific behaviours, such as interrupting and dominating the conversation during team meetings. It offers clear examples of what the individual is doing negatively affecting the team's dynamics. It also suggests a specific action ("actively listening and allowing others to finish their thoughts") to improve the behaviour. This approach is more actionable and less likely to be perceived as a judgment of the person's overall personality.

Creating a Feedback-Friendly Environment

For feedback to be effective, it must be delivered in a respectful, supportive, and constructive manner. Managers should create a safe space where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns without fear of reprisal. By actively listening, acknowledging feedback, and demonstrating a willingness to make changes, managers can encourage open and honest communication, fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect.

The Power of Employee Feedback Software

Employee feedback software has emerged as a valuable tool for streamlining and centralising the feedback process. These platforms provide a structured framework for collecting and analysing employee feedback across the organisation, enabling managers to comprehensively understand team strengths, areas for development, and overall employee sentiment. By leveraging employee feedback software, organisations can effectively address workplace issues, improve employee satisfaction, and drive organisational growth.


Feedback is an essential element of any successful organisation. By cultivating a culture of open and honest communication, leveraging employee feedback software, and integrating feedback into daily work practices, organisations can empower employees to reach their full potential and achieve their strategic goals. Feedback, when embraced as a tool for continuous improvement, can transform a workplace into a dynamic and thriving hub of innovation and success.


How to handle defensive reactions to feedback?

Handling defensive reactions to feedback can be challenging. The key is to remain calm, listen to the employee's perspective, and reframe the feedback more positively and constructively. Emphasise that the goal is to help them improve and grow, not criticise them personally. If emotions are running high, take a break and revisit the conversation later.

Best practices for follow-up after giving feedback?

Following up after giving feedback is crucial to ensure it leads to meaningful improvement. Managers should schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the employee's progress and any challenges and provide additional support or coaching. Consistent check-ins and open communication are essential to reinforce the feedback and track development.

What are the cultural considerations for feedback?

Cultural considerations are essential when providing feedback, especially in global organisations. What is considered constructive criticism in one culture may be perceived as too direct or harsh in another. Managers should research cultural norms and adjust their approach accordingly. For example, in some cultures, providing feedback indirectly or framing it as a suggestion rather than direct criticism may be better.

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