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How great managers give effective feedback

Published by: LifeWorks,


Understanding how to present direct reports with feedback is a skill every manager needs to develop. It not only strengthens a team, it can also boost productivity and performance.

Yet giving feedback can be a communication challenge as well. Here are five tips to help managers hone their feedback skills:

Start from a position of trust. Feedback is easier to take if the recipient knows you genuinely have his or her best interests at heart. Express a desire to support the person’s career growth and development, and explain how you hope they’ll use your feedback to achieve those goals.

Balance positive feedback and areas for improvement. Sometimes feedback needs to be “affirming and supportive and other times it needs to be laser focused on things to change or improve,” says Todd Dewett, author of The Little Black Book of Leadership and Show Your Ink. “Critical feedback delivered correctly is vital on occasion.”

“Critical feedback delivered correctly is vital on occasion.” —Todd Dewett

Share feedback on areas for improvement in private. Be sensitive to the other person’s feelings. Schedule a quiet, one-on-one chat to deliver feedback on areas for improvement.

Keep it specific and constructive. Focus on a single, specific behaviour or performance outcome, not the person’s character or personality. Make constructive suggestions about ways to tackle the problem, and ask the other person for ideas about possible solutions as well.

Take the sting out of your words. Feedback that comes across as harsh or antagonistic rarely has the desired effect and often makes things worse. To establish a friendlier mood, open with some positive comments, offer the feedback, and then close with more positivity.

More support for managers looking to improve their skills is available for LifeWorks clients. Log in at any time by going or connect by mobile app. There you can search for “manager” for more articles and resources.

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