How do you deliver feedback? Some people embrace opportunities to offer positive accolades for a job well done. Others are quick to criticize what didn’t work well and focus on what needs to be done differently the next time.

Both types of feedback are necessary. You need to acknowledge the good as well as offer suggestions for improvement.

Positive feedback needs to be delivered in specifics, such as, “You did a great job on this report because you….” Negative feedback should focus on what didn’t work (the behavior or the result) as opposed to dinging the person.

One employee just received her one-year performance review from her manager. It was a glowing report, with no suggestions for improvement. She commented to me that she wished she had a clearer understanding where she could do better.

She happens to be a top performer, and she’ll take the initiative to figure it out. Most people receiving such a review, however, will think that they’re doing everything right and will coast on the job.

Another employee just assumes that he is going to get hammered any time he submits something to his manager for approval. This manager criticizes everything and has little room for praise. This employee is also a top performer but feels defeated from the constant denigration of his work. He’ll keep plugging away, while an average performer will eventually give up and quit.

I worked with a manager who asked a team leader for an update on a particular project. They discussed the progress and eventually zeroed in on one team member who wasn’t doing her job.

The team leader was hesitant to criticize this team member based on false perceptions. The manager guided him so that he could be effective in how he delivers feedback to the non-performing team member.

This is a good example of effective feedback. It started as a dialogue where the manager asked questions to assess a situation. In this case, both the positives and negatives were discussed, and the result is that this employee feels empowered to do a better job managing the project through better by getting the most from his team.

Think about how you can do a better job balancing how you deliver feedback. Make it a dialogue, not a one-way street.


This blog was reprinted with permission from Lisa. To learn more about Lisa and her work, visit

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