1:1s with our employees are as much part of our leadership routine as feedback. Countless seminars, communication guides and coaching sessions supposedly teach us how to get this feedback thing right. Not too blunt, but not too haphazardly, but neither patronizing, it should be clear without stepping on anyone’s toes. Sounds like walking a tightrope, doesn’t it?

Which best practices for feedback should you bear in mind? How can you establish a feedback culture that fosters higher performance and job satisfaction?

Luckily, the feedback wrap by Management 3.0 gives you a great template on how to give constructive feedback that motivates. You can structure the actual conversation along this guideline, as well as writing down each of the five aspects to organize your thoughts. This is even more relevant, if you have to handle an important or difficult situation with an employee or team member.


7 best practices for feedback

1. Context 

What are the current circumstances you are in? How did you become aware of the behavior or the situation? Provide context for the feedback you are about to provide – feedback coming out of nowhere can confuse the other person.  

2. Observations 

Describe what you have observed in detail, truthfully and neutrally. This is not about judging the other person’s behavior, but about comprehending the situation from their perspective. There is no room for assumptions, insinuations and your own interpretation of the situation in this type of conversation. Instead, it is about an objective assessment of visible behavior.

3. Emotions 

Which type of emotions have been triggered by the behavior in you as a person and as a leader? This can be positive as well as negative. The point of this is to name the emotion in order to express the impact it had on you, not to become emotional.

4. Importance 

Along with the context, you should also highlight the importance of the current circumstances. Why is it important that the shown behavior will be changed or adapted? Possibly, the feedback taker is oblivious to the value in the overall context linked to their task or behavior. How can you convey the importance of the situation without putting the employee in a defensive mode?

5. Suggestions

Instead of dwelling on the undesired behavior and its repercussions, make suggestions, invite the feedback taker to discuss ideas to improve for the future. How can the resulting situation be avoided or turned into a better outcome going forward? While you should highlight your expectations, this is strongly about giving the employee room to express and come up with their own suggestions to resolve the situation. This encourages the employee and his commitment to a change in behavior or different solution to the challenge at hand.

Now we have covered the ingredients for a feedback conversation, however, there are more factors that influence whether feedback is accepted and implemented:

6. Timing

Giving feedback concerning a situation that occurred weeks ago will cause more confusion and frustration than acceptance. Timely feedback is important for both sides so that you do not endanger your basis of trust for ridiculously tardy feedback.  

7. Self-regulation

While it is advisable to provide feedback within a reasonable timeframe, you should also be aware of your emotional condition. If you are personally affected and very emotional, angry or under a lot of pressure, you should take a deep breath first or go for a quick walk before jumping right into a feedback conversation. There is no point in having that kind of talk when upset or losing your temper, as you cannot always repair the damage you will cause with that behavior.

Inadequate, unfair or badly given feedback can cause your employee to quit their job – literally or mentally (the term “quiet quitting” has been coined to describe someone who has mentally checked out of their job). This, in turn, may lead to significant economic damage for your organization.

Why you should establish a culture of feedback in your team

Ideally, feedback is part of your team’s routine, meaning this task is not only yours. When feedback is normalized and shared in a positive as well as a constructive manner, it reinforces the cohesion within the team and increases productivity. Challenges and existing processes etc. can be discussed openly and optimized as required. 

So why not schedule a workshop for the team in which you outline best practices for feedback, and have your team practice giving feedback? By the way, it’s not only important how feedback is given, but also how it is received.

What does the feedback culture in your team look like?

Let’s discuss in the comments which aspect of feedback is important to you and how you deal with it. Are you a leader or a founder facing a difficult “feedback case” which you would like to discuss some solutions for? Our free 30-minute expert call offers you this exclusive opportunity.