Communication - Effective Feedback

Calum MacRae Dec 20, 2019

As a leader, giving appropriate feedback to your team has an enormous effect on their performance and teamwork. If communicated effectively, it encourages and reinforces the culture, values and behaviours of your organisation, as well as building ownership within the team and individuals.

When should we give feedback?

Feedback needs to be ‘in the now’, not when you have ‘had enough’ or it’s a ‘bad day’. Dealing with the behaviour, either good or bad, works to build accountability and a sense of ownership for results within your team. Always remember that people react differently to public feedback so, for me, the saying ‘praise in public and criticize in private’ is a great rule of thumb to be guided by.

What sort of feedback should we give?

Feedback needs to be balanced; don’t just give feedback when something goes wrong, make sure you acknowledge when you see things go well. Experts say that the ideal ratio is three or four pieces of positive feedback to one negative. You do not need to keep score, but ensure that you are balanced in your discussions.

Any feedback should always be about the behaviour, never about the person. Always be specific about how this behaviour was or was not effective, and how it assisted or contributed to a result. This will ensure that you foster the behaviour you want to see and are very clear on the behaviour you will not accept.

Performance feedback

Reward for performance can be in many forms – time off, encouragement, feedback, time spent listening, acknowledging the behaviour, and having others also notice the great effort. If you are solely looking at giving monetary rewards for a job well done, I believe that this can be fraught with danger, unless the results are monetary. If they get paid more money for doing an exceptional job, does that mean they will only do an exceptional job when they get a financial reward?

Values & Culture

Effective feedback is about being honest with your team and reinforcing the values and cultures you want to encourage. It is not a 1+1=2 scenario and is fluid by its nature. Any feedback you give should be processed through your own filter first. 


Ask yourself:

         Is what I am about to say reasonable?

∙         Does it need to be said and how can I achieve a positive result?

∙         Would I be accepting of this feedback?

∙         Once again, how do I achieve a positive result?


Best wishes on your leadership journey.

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