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Giving & Receiving Feedback

Don’t you love it when your manager tells you what a great job you’re doing? Or when they go out of their way to thank you for that extra effort you put in to make the customer happy? As much as we appreciate hearing all of the good feedback people have to give, It isn’t always easy to hear that not-so-positive news when you’re not performing at your best.

Having the ability to provide effective feedback, both good and bad, is a great leadership quality. But it isn’t as easy as you may think. There’s an art to delivering feedback and even an art to receiving it as well.

First let’s take a quick look at a few tips in Giving POSITIVE Feedback:

Be Specific: Providing positive feedback is great, but if you don’t explain the details surrounding what the person did so well, that doesn’t help them. Take a moment to provide a unique detail you noticed that was extra special that you want to call out.

“Hey Emily, I really appreciated how you helped that customer out today.”


“Hey Emily, I wanted to thank you for taking the extra time today to help that customer with their online application. I noticed that you could tell she was struggling with it and it made a big difference that you sat down with her and walked her through all of the steps.”

Be Genuine: If you’re trying to motivate someone, don’t fake it. People know when you’re being genuine or not in your message. No need to cause a big circus in calling everyone to gather around because you have a “big announcement” to make about Emily in front of the team. Instead, take a private moment with the person and thank them for a job well done while providing some specific details. Be sure to look them in the eyes and convey your sincerity.

Next, comes the not-so fun task Giving CRITICAL Feedback:

Cut to the Chase: Nobody likes hearing critical feedback. But it’s even worse when their manager sheepishly creates small talk and causing the awkward tension of getting to the point and saying what’s wrong. This leaves the person guessing why they’re meeting with you and could cause them anxiety, only making matters worse. Instead, find a private area for the both of you to sit down (sitting reflects a more welcoming setting) and lead off your conversation with the difficult news.

“Emily, I wanted us to sit down and discuss your interaction with that customer who complained about our return policy earlier today. I overheard the conversation and was surprised to hear you explain that you didn’t agree with it either, calling it a ‘dumb rule’. I was very disappointed to hear you say that. I can understand if you were trying to empathize with the customer, but as a representative of the company, are you are also a representative of our policies.”

Set Expectations: Make clear what action you’d like the person to improve or correct the situation.

“You’ll remember that we were recently trained on the new return policy a few weeks ago. I’d like for you to review that information again so that you understand the reasonings behind the updated policy. Let me know if I can help answer any questions for you after you review it. I’m also more than happy to help you discuss the policy if another customer has a complaint about it. But you should know that if you continue to respond like that and if something similar happens again, it will lead to a formal warning.”

Finally, it’s time to reverse the roles. Here are a few tips for Receiving Feedback:

Listen Intently: It’s vital for you to fully understand the feedback you are being given. Even if it’s praise, pay attention and listen to what you did to impress your manager! Paying close attention to the feedback you’re receiving also shows the person speaking with you that you’re taking what they have to say seriously.

Seek to Understand: Even if the news is hard to hear, be sure to control your emotions and remain focused on the information you were just told. Sometimes it can be difficult to process what you heard, so you may need to ask for any additional details or examples to help you. Asking these questions to further understand why you are receiving this feedback will help you in the long run.

Reflect: If someone took the time to provide you feedback, you should take the time to reflect on what they shared with you. Whether the feedback be positive or critical, replay the conversation, the words used, and the reasoning it was shared. In moments where critical feedback was shared, use it as an “learning moment” to adjust your approach to things and strive to try harder next time. If the feedback was positive, take a moment to soak in that good feeling and then use those positive vibes to continue your growth. You could even pass it on to others with your own positive feedback for them. You might as well give it a try, now that you have a few easy tips on how to do it!

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