Making Feedback a Priority

Making Feedback a Priority, by Ryan Hansen

How many times have you heard a colleague lead a conversation with, "Can I give you some feedback?" Has that phrase ever preceded a long string of generous compliments? Of course not. "Can I give you some feedback?" has become an acceptable stand-in for, "Can I give you some criticism?" So it's no wonder that many of us equate feedback with criticism and recoil at the thought of unsolicited "feedback."

The inconvenient reality is that feedback - done correctly - is the source of growth, for both leaders and contributors. Feedback gives us guidelines to help us direct our efforts and gauge our own performance. Good leaders should crave feedback and build it into their team's culture.

To make your feedback effective, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Focus on Behaviors, and Be Specific. Don't let feedback become a commentary on anyone's character. People can change their behaviors long before their personalities. Positively affirm specific behaviors that can be reproduced, and identify specific behaviors that cause problems.
  2. Maintain Balance. Too much of either positive or negative feedback can disrupt performance. Praise your team members wherever you can, but help them see where they have room to grow.
  3. Feedback is a Conversation. Feedback without a discussion doesn't even require a face-to-face meeting. Whether it's positive or negative feedback, participation from both sides will illuminate the root causes for performance, both good and bad. Ask questions, and listen well. Your team members will learn so much more from a conversational approach to feedback than a one-sided lecture.

And, when you're the one receiving feedback:

  1. Stay Objective. Try to keep your emotions in check. Relationships are vulnerable during times of feedback, and a dismissive sigh or comment or even a brief glare can leave a lasting impact.
  2. Seek Clarity. Make sure that you come away knowing what the other party wanted you to know. Ask questions, and do not be afraid to ask for examples.
  3. Say Thank You. Feedback should be a gift, and it can be a difficult one to give. When done properly, feedback is a small investment in someone else's growth. Show your appreciation!

The art of feedback is just one of a hundred topics that our Alloy Solutions team would love to talk to you about. For more suggestions on feedback, coaching tips, or difficult conversations, contact our Solutions Team or visit


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