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Art of Giving & Receiving Feedback – The Ultimate Guide

Art of giving & receiving feedback – The Ultimate Guide

Effective & constructive feedback is a must. Top performing companies, across the globe, run different employee feedback programs to boost employee engagement, productivity and a healthy work culture.

Did you know, as per a study on leadership effectiveness conducted across 51,896 managers - Leaders ranking in the bottom 10% of feedback givers have team engagement scores that averaged just 25% whereas, leaders in the top 10% for feedback givers witness team engagement scores that averaged 77%

Also, leaders in the bottom 10% of asking for feedback = lowest 15th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness, Leaders in the top 10% in asking for feedback = average top 14% for leadership effectiveness – think about it.

Some of the most popular feedback programs are employee satisfaction surveys, 360 degree feedback, organization culture survey, manager effectiveness surveys.

The Feedback Advantage - Importance of unbiased, constructive and comprehensive feedback

1. Bridges gap between perception & performance

Regular and relevant feedback helps build a transparent communication process and eliminate any ambiguity that might exist. A healthy feedback mechanism eliminates the chances of miscommunication and forms better relations within and between teams, boosting overall performance.

2. Leads to effective decision making

Constructive feedback helps make well informed decisions and improve efficiency. As employees have hands on experience with organization culture and business process, employee feedback acts as a useful source of valuable insights which further can be utilized to strategize better and aim at better business outcomes.

3. Feedback motivates

Feedback actually motivates employees to perform better. When employees are asked to share their opinion or are given feedback in the right spirit, it makes them feel more valued at their organizations, elevating their commitment levels. Giving and receiving regular feedback motivates employees and helps build better working relationships too.

4. Elevates employee engagement

Asking employees to share feedback and also providing them with regular feedback strengthens the “employee-company connect”. Better connect leads to greater employee satisfaction and engagement. When done right, a feedback program has the potential to increase the chances of employee involvement at work, better goal alignment, contributing to organizational and individual performance, business success and overall wellbeing.

5. Essential for self-learning & development

Unbiased and fair feedback is the key to continuous improvement and growth. Feedback, both positive and negative would enable employees to understand exactly where they are going right and what areas need to be addressed for improvement. Effective feedback process helps with continuous learning and development for employees, across the hierarchy.

Giving and receiving feedback in the right spirit is crucial for organization. Let’s look at how to give and receive feedback effectively.

The art of giving feedback

When delivered properly, feedback can stimulate positive behavior, fill in key performance gaps and ensure a healthy work culture.

1. Start with the positives

Thank the feedback recipients to their time. Start with the areas they are doing really well at and what their co-workers appreciate about them. Talking about strengths helps set a healthy tone to the whole exercise and enable the feedback recipients to be more receptive towards feedback, especially when it’s negative feedback’s turn.

2. Don’t go overboard with feedback

It’s important to understand that feedback has to be prioritized. Limit your feedback to the most pressing issues to start with. The aim is to help the feedback recipients acknowledge feedback and give them time to understand & respond. Too much feedback provided at the same time can be overwhelming for the feedback recipients.

3. Be specific

Feedback has to be concrete. Focus on areas and competencies that are measurable and trainable, for instance – communication, decision making, problem solving, team management etc. The goal of any feedback exercise is to bring about improvement, so our focus should be to identify the aspects on which can be improved with training and mentoring. Tapping in the untrainable aspects will be a waste of time and efforts, moreover, employees may find it difficult to handle being rated low on certain aspects with no knowledge on how to improve upon them.

4. Use the Sandwich approach (Praise – Corrective Feedback – Praise)

Feedback has to be balanced. Begin with praise – positives on working style; what are the feedback recipients good at, identifying undiscovered abilities/talent. Then identify specific areas of improvement - what are the key challenges they face at work, what would you like them to do differently, etc. Followed by a positive conclusion. The sandwich model helps to build confidence and keep the feedback recipients in a positive frame of mind, during the entire exercise. People are more likely to work on correcting a deficiency if they feel good about their performance overall. The goal of giving feedback is to encourage feedback recipients to make efforts to improve.

Quick Stat – 8.9% Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability (Gallup)

5. Be prompt

Timely communication of feedback is an imperative. Delayed feedback tends to lose its impact and importance. Feedback given at the right time boosts the possibility of faster improvement and development.

6. Make it an ongoing exercise

Whether one-on-one employee-manager dialogues or running a quick pulse survey or a 360 feedback survey, feedback should always be regular and continuous, not a one-time event. Also, organizations should make sure that managers are available for their teams and take interest in their efforts towards change.

The art of receiving feedback

1. Acknowledge, understand & appreciate the feedback received

Be thankful for the feedback received. Be receptive to the different opinions – both positive & negative. Listen to what your managers/feedback givers are really saying and try to grasp the spirit behind it, without making any assumptions. If you focus on listening and understanding what the reviewer/feedback giver is saying, you can absorb more information.

2. Don’t throw it back by making excuses

Ever heard of the saying “Effective Feedback is more like a present than a tennis ball” – it’s true! We cannot be on the defensive when we receive feedback, it’s important for us to accept it graciously. Don't take negative feedback personally. We need to remember that it’s not an exercise to pin-point mistake or gaps etc; rather it’s an exercise that aims at healthy development and growth of teams and the organization as a whole.

3. Take your feedback seriously

It’s important to be fully attentive and focused when you receive feedback, after all it’s for our own growth. Do not get bored, it has to be taken in all seriousness. If you look distracted or uninterested, it’ll send out a negative message. On the other hand, your showing interest will indicate that you value feedback being given and what someone has to say. This helps to have an easy and comfortable dialogue.

4. Do a self – evaluation

When we receive feedback (via report or verbal feedback), we all should do a self-analysis. Review your own performance, jot-down your points and ask questions to yourself (for instance - what could be the reason for your scoring low on certain competencies, etc). Self-evaluation is vital to gain self-awareness and form a context for your conversation with your managers.

5. Take it as an opportunity to learn, develop and improve further

Treat your feedback as an opportunity to understand your reviewer’s thinking process and as the basis of self-development. It is the feedback you receive that will highlight what areas of work need to be improved and how. Feedback is the very first step towards progress.

6. Follow-up

Feedback is beneficial only if it is backed by some concrete action planning. Once you know about your areas of strengths and blind spots, it’s time to identify the priority areas to be worked upon. Set up realistic and relevant goals (either individually or with the help of your managers) with specific timelines. Revisit your goals, keep monitoring and evaluating them from time to time. Remember not to set very high-end goals, because if you can’t achieve them, it might end up demotivating you.

In the end

Feedback given constructively has the best intentions. It is important that we understand the true value of feedback –

  • Better work-relations
  • Better organization culture
  • Better goal attainment, Better employee engagement
  • Better performance & productivity, etc.

The essence of feedback has got less to do with the content and more to do with how it is conveyed and received.


1 : Why is effective feedback crucial for organizational success?

Answer : Effective feedback plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between perception and performance. It fosters transparent communication, eliminates ambiguity, and strengthens relationships within and between teams, thereby boosting overall performance.

2 : What are some popular employee feedback programs?

Answer : Some widely used employee feedback programs include employee satisfaction surveys, 360-degree feedback, organization culture surveys, and manager effectiveness surveys. These programs contribute to enhancing employee engagement, productivity, and fostering a healthy work culture.

3 : How does feedback contribute to effective decision-making?

Answer : Constructive feedback serves as a valuable source of insights derived from employees' hands-on experience with organizational culture and business processes. This input aids in making well-informed decisions, improving efficiency, and strategizing for better business outcomes.

4 : How does feedback contribute to employee motivation?

Answer : Feedback, when given and received in the right spirit, motivates employees by making them feel valued. This elevation in commitment levels leads to better working relationships, increased satisfaction, and engagement, contributing to overall individual and organizational success.

5 : Why is unbiased feedback essential for continuous learning and development?

Answer : Unbiased and fair feedback is the key to continuous improvement and growth. It provides employees with insights into their strengths and areas needing improvement, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development across all hierarchical levels.

6 : What is the importance of the "Sandwich approach" in giving feedback?

Answer : The "Sandwich approach" involves starting with praise, followed by corrective feedback, and concluding with praise. This balanced method helps build confidence, keeping recipients in a positive frame of mind. Studies show that managers who receive feedback on their strengths demonstrate greater profitability.

7 : Why is prompt communication of feedback imperative?

Answer : Timely feedback is crucial as it retains its impact and importance. Delayed feedback may lose its effectiveness, while timely communication enhances the likelihood of faster improvement and development.

8 : How can organizations ensure an ongoing feedback process?

Answer : Organizations should incorporate regular and continuous feedback mechanisms, such as one-on-one dialogues, pulse surveys, or 360-degree feedback surveys. Managers should be consistently available and take an active interest in their teams' efforts toward improvement.

9 : What is the significance of self-evaluation when receiving feedback?

Answer : Self-evaluation is vital for gaining self-awareness and providing context for conversations with managers. Reviewing one's performance, jotting down points, and asking reflective questions contribute to a deeper understanding of areas needing improvement.

10 : How can individuals use feedback as an opportunity for further development?

Answer : Individuals should treat feedback as an opportunity to learn and understand the reviewer's thought process. Setting realistic goals, monitoring progress, and following up with concrete action plans contribute to continuous learning and improvement.