22 Sep 2023

Do you use feedback to generate positive change?

Many of us still do not give really good feedback that generates positive change in others.

Why is this?  It seems that ‘fear’ or ‘not knowing how’ are the two main stumbling blocks in giving feedback.


• fear that it won’t be received well

• that the person will react defensively or with anger

• that the feedback will cause ill will and weaken the relationship

• that it will hurt the other person’s feelings


Regardless of the reasons, the consequence is the same – feedback conversations don’t happen and people remain unaware of the impact of their behaviour, and performance stays the same.   The key is to learn how to give it constructively so that it adds value.  Its purpose is to raise awareness and enhance performance.


When giving feedback:

• be prepared

• be factual

• be specific

• be timely


Tips for Giving Effective Feedback


Tip 1:  State the constructive purpose of your feedback

Start by stating your purpose, indicating what you want to cover and why.   Being clear about your intention gives the other person a heads up about how the conversation will go. If the other person has requested feedback, be sure to direct your feedback toward what the person needs. Be clear and straight-to-the-point. For example:  “I have a concern about…”; It’s important to let you know…”

Tip 2: Describe a specific event and what happened

Refer to a specific event or action being clear on when and where it happened, who was involved, and what the results were. Stick to the facts and speak objectively.  Avoid talking vaguely about what the person “always” or “usually” does.  For example:  “Yesterday afternoon, in our team brainstorming meeting, I noticed that as each person put forward an idea, you critiqued it stating why the idea wouldn’t work…”

Tip 3: Describe the Impact

Explain the consequences of the other person’s behaviour and give examples of how they/you/others are affected. This helps the person see and understand the impact their actions are having on others, the team and the organization. For example:  “The impact of this was that the ideas stopped flowing, and we did not achieve the outcome we were looking for.”

Tip 4: Give the other person an opportunity to respond

Feedback is a two-way conversation and it’s important to listen to what the other person has to say. Invite comment and allow them to talk. For example:  “What are your thoughts on this?” 

Tip 5: Discuss a way forward

This stage of the conversation is focussed on how to improve the situation moving forward. Identify preferred behaviours together and consider the benefits of this in the future.  Remember that constructive feedback is centred around development and coaching.

Tip 6: Summarise the conversation and confirm your support

Draw the conversation to a close by reviewing the main points discussed and the actions agreed on. Ending the conversation with a focus on what will be done differently and the benefits of this, helps to install the new behaviour and make it real.


– Jean Schoultz, People & Culture Specialist