The Fine Art of Giving Feedback

Feedback- the word sends down a mixed bag of emotions in everyone. Every employee dreads it but then, this is part of the appraisal and brings in the possibility of a hike. So, employees like you and me gulp it down with a large pinch of salt. 

We have been receiving and giving feedback all our life. In my years of communication skills training, I had to constantly give feedback to track a trainee’s progress. 

That feedback was gentler I believe than the one an employer gives. The feedback, we communication skills trainers give to our trainees is regarding the errors in the pronunciation or the rest of the rhetoric. The ones that the employer gives ideally should be focusing on the work that the employee had done and how good or bad it was.

Now, that we are clear about what the feedback is, let us proceed to address the next elephant in the room.  

Why Do We Need to Give Feedback 

  • Identify the Hidden Potential:  

An employer who is looking for his ideal employee may want his subordinate to work better and focus on his strength. 

Sometimes, we may have certain capabilities and hidden skills that we may not be aware of.

However, a third person may spot it from a distance. Our TLs and managers may have observed us from close quarters as they have worked with us throughout the year. They would, therefore, want to list these down and present them to us. Likewise, even as a trainer, we would note down the best aspects of a trainee and present them to him or her as feedback.

So, we may want him or her to focus on those specific strengths as well and help them shine.  

  • To Encourage a Two-Way Communication:  

When you sit down with your team member for a heart-to-heart meeting, you will want to hear everything from the other side. You may want to know why they fail at a specific task while they excel at the other. There is a reason probably, a reservation they have or some other problem they may want to discuss to ensure better performance.   

  • To see if there are More Avenues of Improvement:  

The purpose of feedback is also to explore the person’s skill set. Will the employee be ready for a position overseas? Will he want to diversify his skills and go for customer relationships or post-sales? These also can help him touch all the areas and shine better than what he is doing now.  

Why Giving Feedback is an Art

Firstly, not everyone can give feedback. It may end up being a rant on why the manager does not like the employee. It may also look like bringing up an old issue and dousing it with more fuel to belittle the employee. So, the point is, not everyone can give feedback. It is an art because it needs you to have a few traits before dishing out any criticism. 

Now that we understand why giving feedback is essential, let us dig deeper on the how. 

  • More than Just Point out Mistakes:  

I know the reason, feedback draws such ill vibes is because it sounds like we are pin-pointing someone’s mistakes. We may go with the flow and tend to be a little rude to our employees as well. We all have also come across managers, who school us on what we lack to become the next TL.

They will, on the pretext of showing us the mirror, do more than just that. This may only cause the bridge to go up in flames. The worst part is to show the employees all of those lists and go super-cynical. 

Even in the case of a training program, I have come across trainers who tend to make a long list of only mistakes.

The big question to ask is if that kind of cynicism is a necessity at all? 

  • When in Mood to Criticize, Keep it Private: 

If you have to give some critical pointers to your employee regarding a specific work that he has done, keep it private. Call him or her to the cabin or personal room, and share your feedback. Do not shout or create a scene in public. 

This way, the employee will appreciate the respect you give him. You may even send written feedback, just keeping your superior in the CC. This way, it will remain confidential, and yet you can convey the message.  

  • Use the Right Words:  

Many employers make the mistake of bringing vulnerable problems into the discussion. They may just say that they don’t like this attitude. Instead of that, you may just say that this attitude is causing a hassle in conveying the right message to the client. This way, the employee will remember to keep that attitude at bay.  

  • Appreciate When it is Due:  

You may want to appreciate a specific behavior or a job that your employee did. Do so, willingly and with an open heart. Do not just hold back when it comes to giving incentives for appreciation. This kind of feedback is perhaps the best and can motivate the employee to work better. 

To sum it up, we have to admit that feedback is an art, and you could be the artist just as well. Just focus on what you want to achieve from this feedback. Do you want to improve the performance and see your employee grow? If yes, go for it but take one step at a time and be kind while showering your employee with constructive criticism. 


She calls herself a fringe-dweller, a dreamer, and a little bit of a go-getter- the things that went to that chemical X when God made her. Born in the southern part of India, raised in the east, she is a content writer now. When she is not writing blogs and articles, she weaves stories on beads for her brand, Nithya’s Imprints, or doodles for fun.

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