How Effective Leaders Give Great Feedback

Attorney meeting client in office

“Be patient, work hard and consistently, have faith in your writing, and don’t be afraid to listen to constructive criticism.”

—Jonathan Galassi


Offering feedback is one of the most important functions of a leader; it is also one of the most challenging. The manner in which the feedback is given can be just as important as the feedback itself and, as a leader, your feedback can have a major impact on your organization. Everyone loves to get positive feedback, but constructive feedback highlights areas where we can improve that we might otherwise miss, and helps us to grow.  It allows us to see where we might need to make changes and do things differently and gives us new ideas and perspectives. Here, we offer some tips for how you can give feedback in ways that are effective and empowering.

1.  Create a Company Culture Where Constructive Feedback is Welcome
Give feedback on a regular basis, as needed; don’t wait to only give feedback at performance reviews. Make note of things you see that can be improved and bring them to people’s attention as appropriate. It is best to  give feedback face-to-face in a positive and friendly manner. Let employees know that feedback is given to everyone on a regular basis and allow people to voice their thoughts freely. This allows them to better express their thoughts about performance and makes them more receptive to feedback. Let people know that it is okay to make mistakes because this is a part of growing.

2.  Focus on Resolving the Issue
If there is an issue, be direct about what it is and focus on improving it rather than placing blame or criticizing. Offer ideas for improvement, being careful with your choice of words, which can significantly impact how your suggestions are received. For example, instead of telling someone that they are not good at making calls, offer ways that they could improve their speech or call strategy.

3.  Involving Other People
When giving positive feedback, it’s good to share it with others. On the other hand, negative feedback should be given privately. Also make sure that those who are doing evaluations of others are in the appropriate position to do so. For example, do not ask an assistant to evaluate someone who should be evaluated by a manager. Also avoid comparing people or setting anyone as a model to follow; they may turn out to not be the model you expected.  Also, people are different and what works for one person may not work for another.

4.  Create a Plan of Action
Do not make assumptions. Prepare before the meeting and find out as much as you can. Avoid pre-judging anyone. Listen to everyone’s perspective before coming to any conclusions. Prioritize and discuss the things that require attention and use specific details, events, and examples. Establish realistic goals, action steps, and times for items that need improvement.

5.  Offer Support
Allow for questions and comments at the end of the meeting and offer support and follow up. Let the person know that they can come back to speak with you again if they need to. Constructive feedback helps people to grow professionally and as a person. As a great leader who gives feedback well, you can enhance and speed up that growth and build strong, lasting relationships.

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