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How To Give Effective Feedback

Research conducted by the analytics and consulting firm Gallup found that just 26% of people strongly agree with the statement:

“The feedback I receive from my immediate manager improves my performance at work.”

This statistic is quite shocking.

At best, it suggests that the feedback people are receiving or the feedback conversations that are happening are a waste of time.

At worst, it damages the motivation of the people we lead and manage, undermining our credibility as leaders or managers.

The reason is that 30-plus years of research conducted by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, as published in their book ‘The Leadership Challenge’, have consistently found that competence is among the top four things that people look for and want from an admired leader.

If we share poor feedback with our team, it creates the perception that we aren’t competent.


Improving the Quality and Effectiveness of Your Feedback

In the video and article below, I have two simple approaches that you can use right now to dramatically improve the quality of the feedback that you provide to those you lead.

These two elements, when combined, can transform your feedback from being merely a formality into a powerful tool for development and performance enhancement.



How do we improve the quality of feedback conversations?

It’s actually very simple. We need to be the cheerleaders and coaches.

Here’s what I mean. My daughter is a competitive swimmer, and I personally am a very poor swimmer, so I can be her cheerleader. I can provide lots of encouragement, like “Keep going, keep doing what you’re doing, keep training hard, and you’ll get there. Keep competing, and you’ll start winning.”

But that alone isn’t going to improve her performance.

That alone could actually have a detrimental impact on her performance because I might be encouraging her to continue using poor technique. So yes, she needs me as the cheerleader.

She needs encouragement, but she also needs her coach because her coach can provide direction. He can tell her, “You need to get your hands flatter as you push forward on your breaststroke,” or “You need to point your toes and kick faster during your freestyle.”


Be the cheerleader and the coach

So, effective feedback requires us as leaders and managers to be part cheerleader and part coach.

Or, to put it another way, effective feedback needs both encouragement and direction.

This dual approach ensures that our team members feel supported and motivated while also receiving the specific guidance they need to improve and succeed.

As my daughter’s swimming highlights, just giving encouragement can do one of two things.

We can encourage people to continue repeating behaviours, activities, and actions that aren’t effective. When we keep saying to people, “Yeah, great job, great job, you’re doing really well,” people will start to become frustrated and ask themselves, “Am I doing a good job? You’re telling me ‘good job,’ but I’m not seeing my own performance and results improve.”

This lack of specific, actionable feedback can lead to confusion and decreased morale.

This is why only 26% of people say they strongly agree with the statement, “The feedback I receive from my immediate manager improves my performance.”

So often, we just encourage people rather than provide direction. They need clear, actionable advice to make tangible improvements in their performance.


What now?

So, as a leader and manager, I encourage you to be both the cheerleader and the coach.

Focus on providing encouragement and direction. When you do that, we can shift those percentages so that many more people feel that the feedback they receive in the workplace improves their performance.

By balancing these two roles, you can create a more engaged, motivated, and high-performing team.


Transformational Leadership Development

If you’re looking for a transformational leadership development programme for your organisation, you’ve landed in the right place.

The programmes I deliver are frequently described as ‘life-changing’ and ‘the best course I’ve ever done in a long career’.

Find out more via the frequently asked questions videos here, and then contact me via to schedule a call to discuss the type of training your organisation needs.


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