How To Unlock Your Feedback Style

In a recent management training program I presented, we explored obstacles to effective coaching sessions. We shared stories of feedback sessions gone wrong. We laughed, we groaned and then we decided to try to understand why some managers and leaders are more successful in developing connections with team members during these sessions. One manager avoided conflict at all cost, while another manager sensed a lack of trust and openness. Still another leader could not understand why their ideas and guidance were ignored constantly. All the managers were concerned with the amount of time these meetings required and weren’t quite sure if they could commit to the time constraints. Why is it so critical for leaders to share feedback successfully? Is feedback just for our team members or also helpful for us to be better managers?


One of the most essential responsibilities for leadership is to be able to guide and develop others. Even if we have a love-hate relationship with conducting performance reviews, there are great benefits to these meetings:

  • People deserve honest, relevant and meaningful feedback about how they are performing on the job.
  • It is a perfect time to assess whether goals and objectives have been met and together analyze what was not achieved and evaluate a future path.
  • These sessions are the key to developing accountability where both the manager and the team member partner to set clear expectations of one another.
  • This is an opportunity to discuss future career development- consider new skills and knowledge needed to move forward.
  • This is the best benefit of all- to solidify the relationship between the manager (coach) and the team member (coachee).  Creating rapport during these meetings opens up the possibilities of learning from one another and becoming more open to constructive feedback. 

So if we know that these feedback and review sessions can be so helpful, let’s look at some tips and techniques to give high-energy feedback:

  • Be specific-  Always focus on the behavior or action, not on the person or attitude. Let the facts guide you and try not to judge or use labels.
  • Be descriptive and clear- Choose your words carefully and make sure both you and the other person really understand one another.
  • Be positive- Make sure to give authentic praise as we are all deserving of that.
  • Include meaningful advice- Criticism will get leaders nowhere but share ways that a team member can be stronger in their job. 
  • Maintain the self-esteem of others- Always consider the needs of the person receiving the feedback as well as your own self-worth.

Make these feedback sessions a partnership between you and the team member. You are both working towards the same goals and should be supports for one another. Caring and empathy go a long way to cultivating a high performing work environment.

What other strategies have you used to foster effective feedback? 



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