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  • Writer's pictureStefano Calvetti

A 5-Step Leadership Guide to Mastering the Art of Giving Feedback

Feedback can be daunting, especially when it concerns areas needing improvement.

Yet, for leaders who want to build a culture of growth and excellence, mastering the delicate art of constructive giving is necessary.


The text "feedback" written with a typewriter style on a beige background. Giving feedback is essential for effective leadership.
Giving feedback is important. Learning how to give them efficiently is essential

For example, aggressive and very direct feedback can scare the recipient, who could feel humiliated, thus withdrawing into quite quitting.


Conversely, mellow feedback would not hit the mark and would be soon forgotten.


Avoidance or delay are not solutions either since they only exacerbate and consolidate the problem.


Drawing from proven strategies, this guide aims to design a quick consolidated approach to delivering tough feedback, helping people improve, and, most importantly, supporting the team’s success.


1. Prepare yourself

Preparation is the backbone of effective feedback. Before initiating a potentially tough conversation, gather your thoughts and pinpoint specific behaviors or outcomes that need addressing. Preparation ensures your feedback is accurate, specific, and beneficial.


For example, before meeting with a team member about inconsistent data reporting, review their reports, note the discrepancies, and consider practical tools or strategies, such as a standardized template, that could help them improve.


At the same time, give the team members time to prepare themselves, especially if you need to deliver negative feedback. You can inform them before the meeting, anticipating the purpose of the conversation.


2. Create rapport

I cannot stress enough how leadership is as much about relationships as it is about results. Building trust and rapport should be the first part of any feedback session.


You can start with a positive note or a genuine acknowledgment of the person’s efforts or achievements. This approach helps soften the blow of the subsequent critique and clarifies that your intentions are constructive. Another great way to start is to recognize and respect the interlocutor’s emotions in that situation.


That's an example of beginning a feedback session by saying, "I really appreciate your quick turnaround on reports. Let's see how we can improve the clarity of the data to enhance our team's analysis."


3. Balance your words

One of the most effective strategies for providing feedback is balancing negative feedback with the rest of the conversation. Avoid overloading with negatives as well as personal judgments. You can use the 'feedback sandwich' method: start with something positive (as per the previous paragraph), follow with the area of improvement, and conclude on a positive note. This method ensures the conversation remains balanced and constructive.


For example, after discussing how a team member can improve their public speaking skills, you might add, "I've really noticed your ability to engage the audience initially, which is fantastic. Let’s build on that strength as you work on the areas we discussed."


4. Open to dialogue

I have learned that every person is resourceful, creative, and whole. You can transform the feedback into a two-way conversation, listening with sincere curiosity to their thoughts and suggestions for moving forward and improving things. The best way to do this is not to dwell on past mistakes but rather to shift the focus to actionable steps for improvement.


For example, you could ask, "Let's brainstorm some strategies to ensure you meet future deadlines comfortably. How do you think we can work together to improve things?”


5. Always follow-up

Offering support and follow-up shows that you are invested in your team member's growth, not just critiquing their performance. For instance, schedule a follow-up meeting after a feedback session to discuss progress and provide further guidance if necessary.


Giving Feedback creates opportunities

I am sure you would agree with me that feedback is a powerful tool for shaping a more effective, resilient, and cohesive team.


However, if giving feedback per se is important, it is essential to learn how to deliver it most effectively.


Now, I challenge you, leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionaries: think about the last time you had to deliver feedback. Were you prepared? Did you build rapport? How balanced was your approach?


That's what you can do starting today:

  • Reflect on these questions and plan your next feedback session with these strategies in mind.

  • Dive into the nuances of feedback with more resources and tailored advice at Master Your Sea.

  • Join the conversation about your experiences and strategies for giving feedback that helps your team grow.

  • Engage with us in the comments below, and let's redefine the impact of leadership feedback together!

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