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How to give feedback more effectively

'Coach Kriengsak, I want to improve my feedback," Poj tells me. "I just read the 360-degree feedback report from all of the people who work around me. If there's one area where there's quite a consensus, it's that I don't give feedback."

"Khun Poj, who are the people you most want to improve by giving feedback?"

"My direct reports."


"Because giving them feedback will help them know what they're doing well and what they could be doing to improve. Their performance will improve. Hence, my performance will improve significantly if they receive high-quality feedback from me."

"That's great, Khun Poj, so now we have to ask: what's been preventing you from giving feedback?"

"I'm not sure. Perhaps I lack the skills."

"Possibly. What else?"

"I'm not comfortable giving feedback."


"It's hurts people."

"What do you mean?"

He's quiet for a moment. "Coach, I think that's my default belief."


"Because if it really hurt people, they wouldn't have commented the way they did in the 360-degree feedback report. In fact, feedback is useful and people want it."

"Khun Poj, what do you think has led to your belief?"

He considers the question silently for a few moments and then tells me, "I remember now, Coach. Twenty years ago when I began working, I noticed that one of my colleagues always came to work late. I decided to tell him, but he got defensive and angry. He told me it was none of my business. I was very surprised. So, I went to ask another colleague, and he told me: 'We don't do feedback around here. Giving feedback shows a lack of respect.' From that moment, I wrongly believed that feedback was disrespectful."

"So, what do you believe now?"

"I believe feedback is a tool to help people learn and grow. In fact, not giving feedback hurts people in the longer term."

"That's great. But since you've been influenced by the opposite belief for so long, how do you ensure that you'll be able to give feedback now?"

"Coach, you're always encouraging me to maintain self-awareness, so I think I'll need to do a brief self-talk every morning. I have to remind myself that feedback equals growth and development of others. And it will help my team to deliver better results. Eventually, it will improve my performance."

"Good. How long do you plan to do the self-talk?"

"I want to do it for one month. After that we'll monitor how it goes."

"Great. How will you ensure that you will do this every day for the next 30 days?"

"I'll send an SMS to you after I do it each day."

"Okay. Now let's talk about how to give effective feedback."

He nods.

"Khun Poj, each person has a preferred and unique way of receiving feedback effectively. Therefore, you need to ask each person, 'What is your preference in receiving feedback?' Also ask for some specific examples from the past. 'When was the best feedback you received? What went well?' Then, you will be able to tailor your feedback style to suit each individual. Here are some general tips:

- Be specific. If you say "Good job", it's not specific enough. Saying, "You submitted your report two days before the deadline" is more specific.

- Explain the consequences. "Submitting your report early gives me more time to prepare the business plan. I really appreciate that."

- On time. Don't wait until the performance review to give feedback. Whenever you see a 'feedback moment', tell people.

- For positive feedback, you can tell someone in front of others. For negative feedback, make it a private session.

- Do it more frequently. Make it part of the regular interaction with your team. Give feedback as much as you can when interacting with your team. Doing both positive and negative feedback.

- Avoid the 'sandwich approach'. Some people give positive feedback first, then give negative feedback later. Most people who receive feedback know that the negative feedback message is the main point and the positive comments are just cosmetic. Hence, it has no impact. On the other hand, people who don't understand this approach might be confused. What is the real message? If you give feedback frequently enough, you don't need to 'sandwich' positive and negative together."

"Thank you Coach. Those are very good tips."

"Okay. Let's practise feedback now. Khun Poj, how am I doing today?"

"Good, Coach."

"Khun Poj, that's not good feedback. Try it again."

"Coach, you did a great job helping me to realise that my experience in the past created a faulty belief about feedback. Then, you shared six feedback tips with me. I appreciate that."

"That's better. Let's follow up on this in our next session."

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at