Leadership Skill 3 Giving Feedback 

 July 27, 2020

By  Tamara Davidson

We all need feedback. High quality feedback works like a mirror, it mirrors back what and how we are doing. For leaders to be effective in their leadership, they must be able to deliver high quality feedback to their team, so that the individuals receiving the feedback are able to do something valuable with it.


Too often feedback is given well after the fact, with ambiguous language and is often delivered or received as advice giving, mind reading, criticism, judgement, evaluative or opinionated in nature. This makes it very difficult to understand what specific feedback is being delivered and what the person can do about the feedback to move to their next level of development. Often when feedback is delivered in these ways, it is difficult to gain clarity on what they feedback actually is, with very little idea of what the person can do to improve.

The purpose of giving high quality feedback is to assist people in turning up their skills and incorporating new response patterns. We would pause here for a moment and ask… do you remember a time when you received high quality feedback? And if so, what made it high quality?

There is no failure, only feedback.

8 Steps on how to give quality feedback...

1. Are you in rapport? 

Nothing happens without rapport. If you are not in rapport with the person you are about to deliver feedback to, we suggest you stop and do not continue until you are in rapport. You might do this by starting the conversation with a connecting point, talk about something you both have in common, ensure you are in physical rapport, facing each other, and remove any obstacles that may block rapport, e.g. desks or tables.

2. Are you both in resourceful states?

If you or the person you are about to give feedback to are not in resourceful emotional or physical states, then we would suggest that you do not continue until you are. There is no point giving feedback from a state of frustration, anger, tiredness or if you are distracted, and at the same time, it is not valuable to deliver feedback to someone who might be experiencing these same states. If you can, model the state that you believe would serve you both well. Is this a state of openness? Curiosity? Or learning?

3. Do you know your intended outcome for the feedback?

This might seem like an obvious question. However, many leaders do not hold in mind their intended outcome when giving feedback, which often takes them off track, making it unclear what the actual feedback is all about. When you identify the outcome that you intend for your feedback, then you are able to keep the feedback relevant to that outcome. It is also important to communicate your intended outcome with the person you are giving feedback to. E.g. “In light of your desire to become more people oriented (outcome), I noticed that you didn’t use anybody’s name in the meeting today (feedback).”

4. Is your feedback tentative? 

For feedback to be highly valuable it must be tentative. This allows you stay away from advice giving, criticism, judgement, mind reading, and giving your opinion. When stating feedback tentatively, you can then check in with the person for their validation or dis-validation of the feedback. E.g. “In view of assisting you in your interviewing skills (objective) when you were asking the candidate the interview questions (sensory based), I got the impression (tentative) that the candidate needed more time to answer the questions before you moved onto the next question, what are your thoughts on this (check in)?”

5. Is your feedback sensory specific?

Feedback is highly valuable when it is given as sensory specific behavioral feedback.  It is also important because you are translating all feedback into behaviours which decreases the likelihood of the person receiving the feedback taking it personally. Sensory based feedback is given in see-hear-feel terms. E.g. “In view of assisting you in your professionalism (objective), it seemed to me (tentative) that your use of the term ‘you guys’ (sensory based – what I heard) was too informal for the board meeting of directors today. What are your thoughts (check in)?”

6. Is your feedback timely?

If you do not have the time to give feedback in the moment, or close to it, then I would question is the feedback really valuable? It is important to share your feedback when the action or experience is still fresh. This is why it is really important that yearly performance reviews focus on celebrating the person, their strengths and achievements. Negative or problematic behaviour should be addressed in real time and not left until a formal review. 

7. Is your feedback actionable?

If we give feedback without co-creating the next steps, then the feedback conversation can remain as just that. A conversation. For feedback to be valuable, the person receiving the feedback needs to have clear next steps on how to action the feedback moving forward. This could be a mix of suggestions given from your own experience, and questions which you could ask to facilitate access to resources or skills in the person receiving the feedback. E.g. “What could assist you to remember and use people’s names in future meetings?”

8. Feedback about feedback

It is important to invite the person you are giving feedback to, to give you feedback on your feedback. You can ask questions like, has this feedback been clear? What will you take away from this feedback? What are your next steps? What has been valuable for you throughout this feedback? Do you have any questions about my feedback? These kinds of questions allow the person receiving the feedback to embody the feedback and to take responsibility for what they will do with the feedback moving forward. And this will allow you to hone your own feedback skills. Check out our blog here on Leadership Skill 4 Receiving feedback.


Test your feedback skills now… go and spend 10 minutes giving relevant, timely and sensory based feedback to a colleague. Ask for feedback on your feedback! If you would like to learn more about how to give valuable and effective feedback, contact Modo today to ask about our Evolved Communication Training Program.

References: Meta Coaching – Dr Michael Hall.

Tamara Davidson

Tamara Davidson is an Executive Coach, Trainer and a Managing Director of Modo Coaching and Training, with over 20 years of experience leading large organisations. Tamara is a certified Meta-Coach, Master NLP practitioner and experienced Enneagram facilitator, and her passion is to facilitate people to discover and actualise their highest potentials in their personal and professional lives.

Tamara Davidson

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