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Feedback is a two-way conversation

Feedback is a two-way conversation

Can I give you some feedback?”

How do those words make you feel when you hear them? Depending on your past experience when receiving feedback, they can create feelings of anxiety and concern.

Although leaders may fear being micromanagers, most employees receive far too little feedback -- and even those who receive negative feedback would prefer to get more. This was found in a study by Gallup in which 47% of employees reported receiving feedback from their manager “a few times a year” or less.

Traditionally, feedback is one-directional, infrequent and focussed on workplace mistakes that have already taken place and cannot be fixed. Instead, make sure you communicate feedback with a well-thought-out plan and continue to build a feedback culture within your business. If you take a coaching approach when providing feedback and ask questions, this allows a more constructive conversation and a higher likelihood that the individual will take the feedback on board.

So how do we go about effectively giving feedback?

Ask for permission

To create a safe space for the employee, ask them if it is okay for you to provide feedback. Control is the cornerstone to psychological safety; this allows them to decide if they are ready for the feedback or not. If your team member feels safe, they are more open to receiving feedback.

Feedback is a two-way conversation

Timing is critical

It is important to deliver feedback in a timely manner. Delaying this communication will dilute the effectiveness and relevance to the employee. So don’t hold off.

Location and delivery

Feedback conversations are best when they are kept private. Remember the old saying, praise publicly, critical feedback in private.

Face to face is also best, however, don’t make this an excuse for not giving feedback if it is not possible. This might be via a video call if physical distance is a barrier or over the phone. It is much easier to read body language and check emotional response in comparison to a reaction to written feedback which can be misinterpreted.

Give frequent feedback

Rather than major and infrequent feedback to your employees, make this a regular communication regardless of the context. Providing constant guidance to the employee will help them identify their high-performance vs opportunity of areas to improve.

Context is key

Focus on delivering the specific facts and not a point of view. Address behaviours that have taken place as opposed to personal character traits.

Share your good intention

Advise this feedback is to help them succeed. This can be hard if disappointed in their actions or behaviour, but it is important to deliver effective feedback.

Feedback is a two-way conversation

Ask for their perspective

Listen to the employee discuss their thoughts on their behaviour. A common problem is leaders can mistakenly assume the employee has poor intent. Instead, assume employees are doing their best, but know there is always room for improvement and work towards that goal together. Ask lots of questions to bring them into the conversation.

Work to a solution together

Together, work on an action plan on how you are going to move forward. Be a motivator and a guide through this process.


Follow up to see if they are working towards the action plan you created together. This will also ensure that you hold your team accountable.

With employee's needs shifting, leaders of companies need to remain relevant and alert to what employees are looking for. Identify opportunities to provide in-the-moment feedback on performance and recognition. Set clear expectations on performance and ensure you have a formal feedback structure within your business.

Remember, feedback is a two-way conversation.

. . .

As a leader, do you need leadership development in this area? I run various leadership programs which heavily focus on feedback culture.

Feedback is a core component of building confidence in our Thriving Leaders Program. This leadership course focuses on empowering first-time leaders to support a high-performing team. Over 8-weeks, I run 2-hour group sessions in the format of virtual group coaching. It is interactive, collaborative and provides a space to share experiences and learn. Between sessions participants, complete activities, curated readings, and videos to embed learnings.

Join the Thriving Leaders Program

For more information, check out Thriving Leaders Program OR Book a 15-minute call


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