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Give & Take: How Do You Deliver Feedback?

If you have had more than one boss in your career (which I’m sure you have!) you will know that there are many different ways to receive feedback. Some leaders don’t hesitate to let you know when you have dropped the ball. If you are lucky, you will get the opportunity to work with a leader that takes the time to understand which approach to feedback works for you.

Here are some approaches to giving feedback:

Tell me how you really feel, why don’t you?  

You have likely experienced this first approach. It comes across heavy handed and can feel like your boss has forgotten that you’re a human being. It probably didn’t leave you feeling very good about your performance or your relationship with that person. Some degree of directness is effective, as it gets right to the point. But what we get in raw feedback we lose in gratitude and progressive development. 


Did I just receive criticism? I can’t tell. The non-confrontational boss will do as much as they can to avoid difficult conversations. In contrast to the non-filtered approach, the sugar-coated leader will make sure to build you up with praise and compliments to soften the blow of some constructive feedback.  People love this type of feedback because they leave the room with a smile but the risk in this approach is that it can build some misguided confidence and deflect and minimize the opportunity for growth and development.  

It’s about balance. 

Providing good feedback is as much about listening as it is speaking.  The key to a balanced feedback approach is knowing when to give it and understanding the employee’s point of view. It’s always important to show gratitude and identify the positive work your team member is doing. but unlike the sugar-coater it’s important to spend time on the opportunity for growth. Questions like: “what would you do differently next time” or “what has worked for you in the past” lead to self-reflection from the employee and allow them to better understand the path for improvement.  A good coach should aim to identify an opportunity for improvement and work with their staff to hold them accountable to get  there. 

Finding the right method of feedback for your team will build trust and allow you to build a working relationship based on gratitude. Learn more about the positive impact feedback can have in Michele Bailey’s book, The Currency of Gratitude.

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