How to Give Valuable Feedback

By S K
on Mar 28, 2017 1:00:00 PM
You know that feedback is an important step to professional growth, but how do you get others on the same page to actually give valuable feedback?

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A shift to a feedback culture can benefit from introducing some norms to get everyone aligned, and we’ll tackle the “giving feedback” part today in this multi-part series.

Building a Healthy Relationship

Giving feedback is part of building a healthy relationship. It’s an ongoing two-way exchange that requires the right mindset and goals up front. As Liane Davey puts it in a Harvard Business Review article, “Deliver Feedback that Sticks,” a feedback mindset means you’re invested in your colleague’s success as an ally, and not just reacting emotionally.

Feedback as a Nudge

 Laszlo Bock’s WORK RULES! he discusses Google’s take on initiating change using gentle reminders, or “nudges.” Building off of their guiding principles, we think that feedback is equivalent to a nudge and that means good feedback is specific, actionable and timely.

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Specific and actionable

In Davey’s article, she provides four key aspects to making feedback specific and actionable:

  1. Provide some context: What project or meeting or specific time period does this pertain to?
  2. Describe the behavior: Can you identify one thing done well or that could use improvement? It’s not about critiquing the whole person, but rather a certain behavior. Use “I” language to talk about what you observed: “I feel undermined when you interrupt me in team meetings.”
  3. Share impact: How does this change how others perceive them? What impact did it have on his/her performance? Show why bringing up this point is relevant for this person’s role and impact on others. Here’s a great example of when Sheryl Sandberg shared impact through radical candor with her direct report, Kim Scott.
  4. Transfer ownership: What are some suggestions to improve? Remember that this will take some listening on your part and that this should definitely be a two-way exchange!

Feedback can help to express appreciation or to provide coaching, and these steps can fit for both cases.


Giving timely feedback means sticking close to the event without making a snap judgment. The frequency of feedback helps to keep things relevant as well as take the edge off of providing constructive feedback in the future. More practice means more comfort with the process!

As you schedule in more regular feedback checkpoints, both online and in person, remember to keep these norms in mind to promote open and constructive communication.

Examples of Valuable Feedback

Appreciation: One thing you’ve done well recently is putting together our presentation deck with enough time for the team to provide feedback. Thank you for anticipating our hectic schedules this week while you were spearheading this. This helped our team stay on top of things!”

Coaching: “One thing I’d like to see you work on is handling questions when presenting to our clients. Last week, it seemed like you didn’t capture all of their questions in your answers, and they were a bit confused. Sometimes a follow-up ‘Did that answer your question?’ can help. Happy to brainstorm with you on this.”

Check back next week for how to receive feedback and build a culture of development at your workplace. See how we’re enabling continuous feedback at Zugata!

Topics: Continuous Feedback

Author: S K

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