Give Feedback That’s Heard

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Give Feedback That Stretches and Grows Your Employees.


The more prepared you are and the more frequently you give employee’s feedback, the easier performance discussions will be.

My mantra: No news should be new news in a performance review. It should be a summation of discussions throughout the year. This echo’s Helen Rol’s advice in 5 tips for leaders to prepare for performance reviews. (read more HERE )

Learning to give feedback that drives your employee to new heights of performance is a never ending learning curve for leaders. Every employee is different so knowing how to approach them and discuss performance in a way they will HEAR it takes thoughtfulness and preparation.

As an Executive Coach, my job is to help leaders take their leadership skills to new heights. One of my favourite coaches and authors, Robert Hargrove, penned these 6 tips for delivering meaningful feedback.

6 Tips for Delivering Feedback

1. Give Valid Information

Use “I” (I noticed… I appreciate….) versus “you” statements (creates a defensive reaction).

Use specific examples so they resonate and are demonstrating both positive and growth feedback.

Be timely. Give feedback while the moment is fresh in a 1-on-1 setting.

2. Emphasize Free & Informed Choice

Employees must give permission to receive feedback.

Check in with them if it is a good time to hear it. Be ok with delaying if they aren’t in the right head space to accept that feedback.

3. Look for Internal Commitment

If employees have valid information and informed choice THEY need to make an internal commitment to act on that feedback. You cannot force change. You can’t do it for them.

4. Make It a Conversation

Ask for thoughts on your feedback. “How does that resonate?” or “What are you taking away from that feedback?”

5. Get Out From Behind Your Desk

Don’t make this intimidating & formal. Book a small meeting room with a round table.

6. Don’t Be Shy

Your job as a leader is to emphasize employee’s strengths and help them recognize traits or behaviours getting in their way (aka blind spots)

Remember, employees will always react to feedback no matter how well it is framed.

Keep the mindset that strong leaders give feedback so their employees will learn and grow.

Your Experience With Feedback:

How have you been given feedback in the past that helped you recognize and overcome a blind spot?

How has a poor experience with feedback shaped how you give feedback as a leader?

How do you get into the headspace to give or receive feedback?

6 tips from: Hargrove, Robert. (2000) Masterful Coaching Fieldbook: Grow Your Business, Multiple Your Profits, Win the Talent War, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer, 234.

Chelsea Newton
Chelsea is known as a dynamic and engaging talent consultant and professional speaker. As a Certified Executive Coach, she is extremely passionate about helping people realize both their goals and full potential. Chelsea has worked in 12 countries around the world helping Fortune 500 companies recruit, train, develop, and motivate top talent using cutting edge communication techniques and social media. She is currently developing top talent in the oil sands and speaking across Canada as the founder of Talent Formula.

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  • Helen

    Hi Chelsea, thanks for sharing these 6 tips! I have a question for you – what is your advice on the following. If leaders understand there has to be internal commitment for the change to happen, how do we as leaders, set direction regarding change that is not optional for an employee, but change that is expected in order to deliver in the role?

    • chelsea

      Helen, great question.

      This is definitely a hard balance leaders have to plan – what is good for the employee but also what is required by the organization. Clearly outlying expectations and having the employee self-identify what they are doing well and what they need to work on helps.

      I personally love the exercise of having an employee take their job description and highlight anything in GREEN that they are doing well (aka meeting expectations) and anything in YELLOW they need to work on. This helps you facilitate a conversation about their self realization & where you see them. This can be a tool to then give that feedback regarding changing behaviours based on what the organization needs.

      At the end of the day, an employee needs to understand the change required by the organization. They have to choose to make that change, even if it represents a shift or potential a block on some of their own development goals. If they don’t buy into it, they can self select out, or ultimately, leaders need to decide if they are the right fit.

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