Give and Receive Feedback


It is essential to provide ongoing feedback to your employees to allow them to develop to their full potential. Managerial input is a crucial factor in the successful performance of most employees. It answers many of employees’ most important questions and helps them to do the following:

  • Stay focused and motivated “Does anybody know I am here adding value?  Does anybody care?”
  • Keep moving in the right direction “What should I do next?”
  • Steadily improve performance “What am I doing right?  What do I need to improve?”
  • Extend the range of individual responsibility without compromising work quality “Should I take on more responsibility or will the quality of my job performance suffer?”
  • Find out, in this era of constant flux, what’s changing and what’s staying the same “Is the strategy that worked for me yesterday going to work for me tomorrow?”


While most people find it much easier to provide positive than constructive input, it is important to incorporate both types into your day-to-day “management style”, and not just focus on them during performance meetings or reviews.  When there is inadequate feedback:

  • People become anxious and uncertain
  • Work quality is diminished
  • There are recurrent mistakes
  • Productivity is lowered
  • Managers lose credibility with employees
  • Employees miss out on valuable learning opportunities.

You should ensure that you are offering praise and gratitude for a job well done on an ongoing basis, and not just as part of a formal review.  Public “thank-you’s” and personal notes go a long way towards increasing morale and promoting an “extra mile” attitude.


When it comes to negative reviews, things get a little more complicated. Providing constructive criticism is an essential aspect of developing your employees.

In general, there are three rules to providing negative feedback:

  • Communicating the problem – whether you are giving or receiving the criticism, ask questions to get a clear picture of the situation and make sure you listen to what the other person says.
  • Clarify – Once you have a clear picture, you need to be specific. Focus on the behaviour and the facts – not opinions, personalities.
  • Commit – Propose a solution. Once an agreed-upon solution is identified, ask for commitment – a commitment to change.

When you know you have to provide an employee with negative performance feedback, there are five steps to follow in preparation:

  • Set a goal – specify exactly what you want the other person to do or stop doing;
  • Plan your approach – what words to use to express your point, the tone of voice you should use, what positive comments you can use to build empathy, etc.;
  • List specific examples– give examples that illustrate the behaviour that you want changed;
  • Consider the person’s situation– if they are under stress, your approach will be different than if they are more calm;
  • Choose a time and a place– always provide negative input in private.


It is also important that your employees feel comfortable providing you with feedback.  If they can communicate openly and make suggestions without fear of retribution, they will be more willing to take risks and contribute at a higher level.  When receiving feedback, ensure that you:

  • Listen carefullyto what they have to say, without interrupting them;
  • Maintain solid eye contact;
  • Ask questionsto ensure you fully understand what they’re trying to communicate; and
  • Write downwhat they’ve told you.

Remember, if you ask for feedback, make sure that you respond in a professional manner and try to act on it.  Raising expectations that things will change, and then taking no action will backfire.


2-Minute Takeaway– A video on giving negative feedback on the job – quick tips to make sure both parties get the most out of the experience