Effective Feedback - Leadership Skills

How To Give Effective Feedback

After a long and intense day at the office, David decided to praise Lisa and ease the tension by making a little joke: you are doing a great job but you should be swearing more often. A few days later he finds out from another colleague, who overheard a conversation in the canteen, that Lisa did not feel appreciated and she complained about the swearing part. It is clear that David does not know how to give an effective feedback but there was more.

The Conversation

— How could she not see that I actually praised her? – David expressed his frustration with the grimace painted on his face — I also don’t like when people talk behind my back, she should have told me! – the complainer is always right…

Giving unprecise feedback is one of the most common errors and missed opportunities. Imagine how much energy is being wasted just for the sake of canteen conversations? That energy can be easily directed towards the goals of your department. Remember that you do not manage people, you manage their energy and the way they spend it is a good indicator of how good your influence is.

manage people

— David, first of all – I replied – there is an issue with praising. What do great, good, and amazing mean? And what do you mean by saying a job? Such vague expressions are dangerous as they can be related to any situation. The message you’ve actually sent is that you don’t know what she has accomplished and just want to give her a pat on the back like you give to your dog when he retrieves a thrown stick. Do you honestly think that she is as intelligent as a dog?

He Shrinks By An Inch And Smiles In Gentle Embarrassment 

— What should I say then?

— You need to be specific. How many reports does she have to go through to deserve great?

— Great is 25, but….she actually went through 28 on that day…

— So you say — you have done great, 25 reports is our best but you’ve managed 28! – and pause for a moment so she can really feel your gratitude.

— I got it! – he goes back to his posture in excitement – what about the second part?

— Well,  it’s good that she is focused on the tasks but you want her to be more relaxed, more open, more of a people person, don’t you?

— That’s right, all she can talk about is work.

— You clearly have got some untapped potential here so you need to give her a task as this is what she’s focused on. Team her up with a couple of people and let her coordinate a little project, that would be an official mission. Unofficially tell her, that her real assignment is to get to know the team as best as she can. Explain that you can see that she is committed, diligent and precise as only she can do 28 reports. Now you want to find out if she can spot other peoples’ talents, and that should be her main task.

— Interesting, what if she says no?

— No is a start of the process, you need to sell the idea to her. Listen to the arguments, paraphrase and close. She will say yes, the question is, under what conditions? Alright, let’s get to practice!


Precise feedback is a fuel for peoples' motivation. Be sure to get it right!

Martin May

Managing Director at Intelligent and Lazy Management Consulting. Coach, trainer, blogger. "How we say it is more important than what we say"

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments