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Feedback is a Gift

One of the most difficult things that any Manager or Leader has to do is to give developmental feedback - by which I mean, tell people that they're not doing something well enough and help them to start doing it better. It comes up all the time in coaching sessions and knowing you've got a difficult conversation coming up the next day can give you a sleepless night!

Ultimately, most of us want to be liked and by delivering a difficult message, we fear that we might be putting all of that in jeopardy.

Feedback can and should be a gift. Well designed feedback is a true expression of deep respect and admiration for the learning of a colleague. So... Here's 3 ways to deliver feedback effectively. I've started with the quickest and moving up the scale to the most involved.

AID Model

One of the simplest and most effective ways to offer feedback in the moment is by using the AID model:

  • Action: Noting a specific behaviour in a specific situation.

  • Impact: This is the impact that the behaviour had on you, or the potential impact it would have on others or the colleague themselves.

  • Development/Do (or Desired Behaviour): The behaviour you think would help them or others going forward.

A simple example of this might be: A: When you arrive late for a meeting, I: you can miss the set up that frames the goals for the meeting, D: could you arrive on time for future meetings. Or, A: When you create a table without clear formatting, I: people will struggle to understand what it is that you are trying to communicate, D: Could you add this to your checklist of things to look at in the future?

Golden Rules of Feedback

When designing feedback for a colleague, taking some time to prepare will really help to make sure the feedback holds the most value for the recipient. It will also help you to make sure your feedback is focussed in the right areas.

Telling someone that what they're doing is not good enough and nothing more is going to be demotivating. Taking the time to design really high quality feedback will drive individual and therefore team performance. As you can see, having things that you're measuring really helps to enhance the factual contributions to this feedback design. Sometimes however, you may not be measuring things, and in these situations, perhaps the next, slightly more involved feedback model will be helpful.

Effective Feedback Cycle

Getting better is a process rather than a goal. Even Olympians are always working hard to get those 1% gains. Integrating a robust feedback cycle will therefore help everyone to constantly improve.

The first two methods detailed above are forms of 'Assisted Discovery' where you're taking the time to let someone know where opportunities exist to improve. If you have time however, enabling 'Self Discovery' is a great way to enhance the self awareness and problem solving skills of others. You might do this by asking coaching questions:

  • What are you noticing in your performance at work?

  • Where can you see opportunities to improve?

  • How would you describe your working relationship with colleagues?

Once an issue has been identified, you can embark on supporting someone through the feedback cycle. In working to the above, you as the manager or leader are holding responsibility for the process, but your colleague is holding responsibility for the issue and associated actions. We've all been there where we spot things that are going wrong and just end up adopting more and more work under the false pretence it will be quicker and easier to do it ourselves. Whilst this might be the case in the short term, this pattern of behaviour is cumulative and can hugely increase your workload and dilute your own performance. By maintaining this clear separation of duties you keep responsibility where it belongs and over time the discipline will reduce your workload as staff become increasingly able to spot and resolve their own challenges.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for you when you're next delivering feedback.

As always, thanks for reading!

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