Giving Effective Feedback - Part 1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I give feedback to my team?
  • Can I give feedback in public?
  • How do I tell people they're doing it wrong?

In this podcast, Mike and Mark share a technique managers can use to give feedback to their team members.

Feedback is the most frequently-used tool of effective managers. What is feedback? Feedback shows someone the impact of their behavior, allowing them to change ineffective actions or continue doing things that help the team achieve its goals. The dirty little secret of most managers is that while they are DESPERATE to get feedback from their bosses, they then visit that same sin on their own team. Every time Mark asks groups of executives and managers if they'd like more guidance and response from their boss, everyone raises their hand. On the other hand, every group also believes that their team is hearing everything the team needs from them. Of course, it's not true.

Mark and Mike updated the Feedback Podcast in 2012 - the old podcast has been archived and the new podcast provided below.

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I just wanted to thank you for posting

I just wanted to thank you for posting your podcasts. I'm not sure if I'm in your target group. But I'm occasionally leading small project teams and I get a lot of valuable advise from listening to your talks. BTW, I'm in Germany. So I also pay close attention to cultural differences which might exist between your management style and what goes on over here. I might not be in a position to do things like one-on-ones, but maybe I can push my managers over to your website and thus improve me and my co-worker's office-life.

Thanks for the kind remarks, Stephan.

Thanks for the kind remarks, Stephan. Although we have been speaking in terms of the formal organizational hierarchy, don't get us wrong; you're absolutely in the target group. As you know, most, if not all, of the tools we're describing work well in *informal* leadership roles as well.

And you're wise to respect cultural differences ... it's hard to establish effective relationships with your team/peers if you don't! And *none* of these tools work well unless you have effective relationships. As you might suspect, we picked "relationships" as the subject of our first podcast for a reason!

Thanks again!

Hey Folks, Have just started listening

Hey Folks, Have just started listening to your podcasts and found this one especially useful brining feedback away from the personal. I don't seem to have issues with my direct reports and giving feedback (but will be "tuning" with some of your suggestions), however I lead many projects comprised of seconded resources and this is beginning to show results after a short spell.

Really enjoy the way you two interact to bring your point across and the podcasts are the right length to be over and done with on the way to work in the car. Keep it up.

btw - any insights in future programs on how to teach exec's about strategy and bring them away from micro-management of operations would be really aprpeciated.

Great Podcasts, I've just been moved up

Great Podcasts, I've just been moved up into managment and found your postcast on iTunes, they are just what I needed. I'm putting your advice to work.


To futopillow- Thanks for the

To futopillow-

Thanks for the feedback! We didn't really spend much time on it (we try to stay pretty tight on time), but your comment about taking feedback away from the personal is a VERY powerful part of why this approach works. When we talk about behavior, we give some distance to the person: "Hey, you're fine, and can you change what you're doing?"

Do have the avoidance of micromanagement on our agenda... and you're right, strategy is where senior execs ought to spend more of their time. I will say if you're working for a micromanager or in a micromanaging org, one way around it is schedule regular meetings with your boss to update him/her. It's essentially you creating your own one-on-one, as the first 10-15 minutes will be you briefing. Bet your boss will love it and leave you alone more.

Keep the comments coming!


"Long time" listener, first time

"Long time" listener, first time poster: Great show! I think my major challenge in applying the feedback model is making it a habit. It's basic, but it's easy to blow past all the rules in the heat of the moment. Yesterday, one of my folks sent me a snippy email about a lapse in my communication skills. To add to the insult, he copied a couple of his peers (my reports).

The next time I saw him, which was a couple of minutes later, I told him not to put comments like that in email because all it did was annoy and embarass me. Big mistake. He apologized "I am sorry that I pissed you off..." But I could tell that he had simply hunkered down as in, "I'm right. This guy has a pointed head."

So I took another run, explaining that he should not be concerned about annoying me. "That's my problem if I get annoyed at your feedback," I said. And then I agreed that the example he pointed out was valid. I explained why it happened, and then I reminded him that email is best for non-emotional information. Next time, just talk to me.

I'm not sure I recovered more than 50 percent of the learning opportunity, and I'm sure I'll get another chance Monday. But here's my point - feedback takes practice. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thanks again. I think this is a great podcast and I hope you guys go global.

I work for a large public sector

I work for a large public sector organisation here in England and find your podcasts excellent. Adjusting to the cultural differences, although these are relatively minor, I find the tips and suggestions really add value to my practice and team contribution. The podcasts are well presented and appears so simple - which it is when you hear it as you present - yet it is really effective. Complements my general management training well.

Thank you for taking the time and making the effort. I really appreciate it and always look forward to the next podcast.

I'm new to your podcasts. but, wow! You

I'm new to your podcasts. but, wow! You techniques and theory is bag-on!

thanks for the advice.


Matt- Thanks for the kind words!


Thanks for the kind words! Glad you like our casts. Tell your friends.

It's a privilege to serve you.


Hey Guys! I'm new to your podcast and

Hey Guys! I'm new to your podcast and I'm going back to the beginning to try and catch up. I love the podcasts so far and I am in the process of implimenting many of the items you talk about.

I just finished your podcast on feedback and I have a question that I didn't hear addressed. I work for a small company and I routinely work with people that report to my direct reports. When I see something that requires feedback, is it appropriate for me to give feedback to this person, or should I give feedback to their boss (my direct report) and let them give feedback to the individual?

Love the show!

Hi Guys I would first like to say

Hi Guys

I would first like to say thanks again for all the time and effort you put into your shows. I find them really useful and am making them essential listening for my colleagues!

I have a question I would like to get you thoughts on relating to feedback.

I think in general, when you are discussing feedback you are describing its use with direct reports, and effectively subordinates. What advice would you give for giving feedback to colleagues at the same level as yourself?

I am in a role where I am planning and co-ordinating strategic activities (service dev, sales deployment, etc) with 3 colleagues at pretty much the same level as myself and I would like to ensure that we have the same open dialogue that feedback provides in the relationship between a manager and his/her direct reports. However I am concerned that some of the phrasing and tone in the 'text book' feedback model might be inappropriate for piers.

Would you have any specific advice on how to nuance the delivery or amend the process to fit in with this requirement?

Many thanks again

Michael- Thanks for the kind words


Thanks for the kind words of appreciation. glad you're getting value out of what we're doing here. We do it for you.

Regarding your question, I hope you won't mind going to our discussion forums. There's a link towards the top left of this page, or you can just click on the link below:

It requires a separate registration/log in, but I think you'll find it useful. There's an entire category on the feedback model, and at least two long-ish threads on feedback to colleagues.

Take a look there, and if you're still wondering, post there and I'll chime in.

Thanks again.


This is a great podcast. Honestly, as a

This is a great podcast. Honestly, as a restaurant supervisor, this podcast delivers exactly what the typically shotgun in store restaurant management training does not enstill it's managers with.

THANKS, once again. and I'll definetely recommend this to my peers, and my managers.


Great ideas. It's neat once you get

Great ideas. It's neat once you get the formula down, it becomes so natural and effective.

Great cast. Just went back and

Great cast. Just went back and listened to this one. I lead a team of 21 managers who are all offsite so feedback is a challenge. This method is very simple and yet very valuable. I took the 50 times in a week comment to heart and set a goal of 10 uses on Friday. Ended up the day at 14.

Sad to say the majority of the people I talked to had the initial negative reaction you spoke about which is a reflection of how poorly I had been giving feedback before.

I was sharing the framework with my wife over the weekend and she said it could sound kind of canned. What are your thoughts on this? In my mind I believe that while it follows a format it is giving way more specific behavior/impact information than anything I was doing before.

I really enjoy the weekly podcast. Thanks for your efforts!


Just saw Mikes direction to put this on

Just saw Mikes direction to put this on the forum instead of here. Sorry about that!

[...] Manager Tools - Tools for Leaders

[...] Manager Tools - Tools for Leaders and Managers » Blog Archive » Giving Effective Feedback (tags: agile feedback) [...]

Holy smokes! I just implemented the

Holy smokes! I just implemented the feedback model 3 times, 2 affirming and 1 adjusting, on two people in the space of 10 minutes and I'm the one that's sweating. My first thought was, "Oh no, they're not gonna like me." Ha! Even giving affirming feedback made me uncomfortable.

But, Mark, as you said in another podcast, it's the quantity and the quality of the communication that makes the difference. I can tell by manner of your delivery that you use this frequently and are quite comfortable with it because it sounds natural. I'll strive for that comfort level because I believe it works.

Thanks guys!

MJStelly- That's why we're here!


That's why we're here! Glad you've started...keep us posted.

It's a privilege to serve you.


A start a new job in a few weeks and

A start a new job in a few weeks and while I have some down time I have gone back and re-listened to some of my favorite casts. This one on Feedback is really spot on. I have learned so much listening to you guys. So practical and effective. I am refreshed and eager to start my new job and will keep in mind all you have taught me. You guys are the best.


Mark, I have subscribed to the


I have subscribed to the premium content today. Considering that I am working out of India and taking into account the dollar to rupee conversion rate, the annual premium subscription looked a bit costly to me, but I am convinced that it is worth it.

I am in the process of downloading some of the content on this website and going to study the same and eventually implement these techniques.

Thank you for providing this wonderful and content rich forum.


Asking if I can give feedback feels

Asking if I can give feedback feels very awkward. Maybe if is cultural (UK IT consultancy) or perhaps just me. I would much rather start with "Joe, can I have a minute?" than "Can I give you some feedback?" I understand the point about the recipient needs to be willing to improve, but my directs always seem to be - they just need to be given it...

DGFraser- We certainly


We certainly understand....and it's not a Brit thing at all. You feel uncomfortable only because it's new. It felt uncomfortable to me in the beginning as well...but now, it's just how I introduce a brief discussion about performance.

I'm glad your directs are generally open to feedback - that's good. But being generally open isn't the same as being ready to hear it at that moment. That's why we recommend what we do.


I tried the 4 step model today. I was

I tried the 4 step model today. I was in a position to give feedback to two people at the same time about a meeting we had together. So I waited for them to be in the same place, asked them if I can give them feedback about this particular meeting, which they agreed. Then I told them that when they did not have the documents prepared before the meeting when our guest arrived, this made our organization and them look unprofessional. Then they started defending, saying this is an exception and they always have the documents ready and then that the guest came in early. So then I got sidetracked and could not make it to step 4 but asked them to pay attention to this. But overall, I guess the fact that they defend themselves seems that they agree that they should be prepared before the meetings, which is the important message. They can probably prepare in advance for situations when guests arrive early, but this did not occur to me as I was giving feedback. I think how you say these things, how relaxed you are and how much gravity you have all enter into the equation. But I think when recepients get defensive, it is hard to move to step 4, any ideas about this?

No comment about the defensiveness when

No comment about the defensiveness when you give feedback to more than one person at a time. It's completely possible that each was just embarrassed that the other was hearing that they messed up.

Stop trying to be efficient. Spend time giving them each feedback separately.


Being a new person in a company, can I

Being a new person in a company, can I start giving feedback to people as soon as possible? what is the best approach?

George- Yes, you "can"...but it


Yes, you "can"...but it won't work very well. The most effective way is: Only to your directs, and only after establishing a relationship with them through one on ones, and after telling them that you will be doing so and why.


Thank you for the model, and the

Thank you for the model, and the podcast. I'll be using it on Monday for one-on-one with a low performer. With your help I've taken all the frustration out of our discussion and I will be focussing on his future performance.

coaching directs on giving feedback to each other (lateral)


I really enjoy your podcasts and refer back to them frequently. I am wondering if you have any podcasts or advice on teaching/coaching reports to give feedback to each other (laterally)? I have a direct who needs help with this but I'm not sure THIS series of podcasts (which are designed for managers giving feedbacks to reports) is the right approach.

For example, what can I tell/coach/teach him so that he can give effective, constructive criticism to others on his team when he has a problem with their work, and that problem is affecting his ability to work effectively?

Thank you,

Ryan Flynn

giving you some feedback

Hey there,

I really like your podcast-it helped me write my college report a lot!keep on sharing the knowledge you've got!:D

Though i noticed 1 mistake in this feedback related podcast:you mentioned russian dolls and called them "babushka dolls" but that is not actually correct...they are called "matryoshkas"."Babushka" means grandma and "matryoshka" means that particular kind of russian dolls.

Best wishes,

PS:if you see any mistakes in this message-don't judge me harshly-i'm not that fluent in English.