How to Give Feedback at Work

Giving and receiving feedback is a crucial part of our professional development. 92% of people in one study, said that negative feedback is effective at improving workplace performance. However, when it comes to delivering negative feedback, we might not always get it right. 

One of the most important things we need to be aware of, is knowing how a person might feel when receiving this new constructive feedback. There are five common stages of reaction that a person can experience when first made aware of behaviour that is not serving them or others.

Shock and Surprise





These stages may only take a person a few minutes or it may take several months. It is important to be aware of these five stages when observing how people may respond to feedback for the first time as well as being aware of how you yourself are responding to the feedback. 

What are the Best Practices for Giving Feedback?

In order to ensure someone is receiving feedback as opposed to criticism or praise, follow these three fundamental rules:  

  1. Be specific: Focus on a time, place, meeting, email, phone call or date
  2. Identify facts: Cannot be based on someone’s perception or view
  3. Call out behaviour: Based on what people say or do

Based on these three rules, it is therefore impossible to give someone feedback on their “Attitude.” Attitude is a person’s mindset. It is what they are thinking. Therefore, feedback cannot be given on what a person is thinking, only on their behaviours. Is their intention aligned with their behaviour? 

People look for opportunities to replicate behaviours that have a positive impact on others. They would often seek this outcome but would need to know the specifics of ‘how’, which constructive feedback provides. 

For example: 

“You are showing a bad attitude towards our company value of openness right now.” 

This is not specific and is not based on behaviour. It is a Criticism. 

“The Senior Managers seem really happy with how you are demonstrating commercial care in managing the Production Channel.” 

This is not necessarily based on facts and is not specific. It is Praise. 

“The way you challenged the project with curiosity just now created the right level of awareness resulting in a great conversation and an aligned decision on how to move forward, well done.”

This is feedback that lets the person know exactly what they did right and the outcome of their behaviour (the way they challenged).

The 3 golden rules of feedback demonstrate again why criticism or praise will not add value. 

Start implementing this technique in your workplace with your employees today!


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