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The 3 Steps of Giving Feedback Effectively

Giving someone corrective feedback can be difficult, but there are three steps you can follow to help ensure you do it effectively:

  • observe the individual’s behavior for areas that should be praised or corrected,
  • determine when and where to give the feedback, and
  • give your feedback effectively.

Observe behaviour

When you suspect you need to give someone corrective feedback — but before you do so — first observe this person’s behavior directly. Withhold judgment and don’t assume anything until you know the facts. 

Don’t hover over someone in an attempt to identify the problems. And, as you observe, choose the type of feedback that matches the person’s behavior.

  • Observe behavior directly — It’s important to get the facts about someone’s behavior or performance yourself, rather than relying on hearsay or asking others what they’ve noticed.
  • Withhold judgment — While you use your experience and expertise to assess someone’s behavior, you need to withhold judgment. You do so by being careful not to make assumptions and not to give feedback on partial knowledge or guesswork. Make sure your feedback is supported by facts based on what you’ve observed.
  • Don’t hover — If you hover over employees’ shoulders waiting for them to do something wrong, you’ll sabotage your working relationships with them. Give feedback whenever it’s needed, but don’t set out to find opportunities to give corrective feedback.
  • Choose the right type of feedback — When observing someone’s behavior, decide whether the behavior should be encouraged with positive feedback or changed with corrective feedback. Be clear about what kind of feedback you plan to give before approaching someone.