Insights in Leadership

The best first step in giving performance feedback, yet almost nobody does it!

April 6, 2015


Giving feedback (constructive criticism) is so difficult for some managers, that they avoid it at all costs. One dominant reason is fear that it may lead to confrontation. What if I told you that there is a simple step that almost nobody does which can go a long way toward relieving those fears?


Here it is: Start by asking for the other person’s self-assessment of their performance. Let me say that again, because it’s so simple. Ask the person what they think about how they did before you tell them what you think.


If they reply by telling you essentially the same thing you were going to tell them, and they just might, then you’re done. You can simply say, “I agree, I see it the same way.”


If they say it; they get it.


If they don’t say it, then you could ask another question. “What do you think about how you did in (name a specific item or area of performance)?”


Again, if they reply with the same thing you were going to talk about, you can just agree and you’re done.


If not, here are three more suggestions for managers who need help in giving constructive feedback:

  1. Before giving feedback, if you are uncomfortable or fear confrontation, discuss this with your mentor prior to offering feedback. Seek wisdom. 

  2. Practice (role-play) what you’re going to say with your mentor and let him or her coach you through handling likely negative responses. Gain proficiency; practice builds confidence.

  3. Remember it’s not you against them; it’s them vs. their responsibility to the team. It’s not them doing what you say; it’s the higher purpose of them doing what’s right for the team. Keep the proper focus: the team comes first.

What do you think? Would this help you or someone you know? Please comment (give me feedback) about this blog article. I promise it won’t turn into a confrontation between us!



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