Five ways to take the hard work out of feedback

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Why do leaders make such hard work of seeking and giving feedback? Part of the reason lies in the belief that the skills leaders need to provide feedback or receive it emerge organically. The challenge with this approach is leaders can get it wrong as many times they get it right. Getting it wrong can have disastrous consequences including misunderstanding, frustration, and fractured relationships.

We’ve found in our work with clients that the techniques can be learned and applied to produce great outcomes.

So why is feedback important and why do leaders need to develop these essential skills?

Feedback is essential to improving some aspect in the way we operate and interact with each other; it is used as a way to increase trust, build understanding and ultimately improve performance.

It starts with us as leaders

The question that everyone asks is where do I start?   It starts with us as leaders because at times giving and receiving feedback can be a subtle and intricate art. It requires leaders to be self- aware and be able to listen and exhibit restraint, diplomacy and patience.

Proper Preparation is the Key

Use these questions to guide your preparation

  • What is your purpose for seeking or giving feedback? It starts with WHY?
  • What would be an ideal outcome?
  • Are you more emotional than the situation warrants?
  • What was your role was in creating this situation?
  • Is the person aware there is an issue? If so, how do you think they perceive it?
  • What are your needs and fears?
  • What are their needs and fears?

What we need to be aware of when giving feedback

  • Be objective; use facts/examples.
  • Be clear; don’t use ambiguous terms or labels.
  • Be specific; don’t generalise or trivialise.
  • Be exact; don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t be judgemental.
  • Speak only for yourself; don’t generalise or refer to anonymous people.

What we need to be aware of when receiving feedback

  • Listen carefully. Listen as if you’re hearing the information for the first time
  • Ask questions to clarify.
  • Paraphrase the feedback back to the other person to confirm you have heard what the other person is offering.
  • Acknowledge the valid points.
  • Take time to reflect on what you heard before responding.

What can trip us up in the feedback process

  • Believing that our views are correct irrespective of the merit of what is being offered in response.
  • Not Remaining focused – in particular listening requires a great deal of concentration.
  • Rushing the process – not allowing sufficient time.
  • Wrong time and place.
  • Manipulating the situation to make it self-serving.
  • Thinking you already know what the person is going to say.
  • Dismissing the feedback out of hand instead of reflecting on what is being offered.

When done correctly, people on both sides benefit from the feedback process. Those who give feedback have the capacity to shape new behaviour, provide guidance and empower others to act. Receiving feedback can be liberating, accelerate learning and lead to more trusting and effective relationships and outcomes.   Giving and receiving feedback is an essential leadership skill we trust these insights will assist you.

We work with leaders to expand self-awareness and build essential skills. We would be delighted to speak with you about our insights in how to develop these essential skills for your leaders.


Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.

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