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The power of feedback

We can all probably remember a time when we've shifted uncomfortably giving feedback to a team member – and equally recall bristling when getting an assessment of our own progress.


Is it a hangover from the fear that school reports used to instil in us? Maybe. A symptom of the British stiff upper lip mentality? Very possibly.

Whatever the cause, as leaders we need to learn to embrace the power of feedback.

It’s not always easy but developing a feedback culture can help your team perform better, you to become a stronger leader, and your business to thrive.

Why feedback is key

It can improve performance

According to Harvard Business Review, 72% of employees feel corrective feedback from managers would improve their performance. The same study also found that 57% of people prefer feedback to pure praise. Timely and constructive feedback is an opportunity to look at ways to achieve better results and keep everyone on track. Rather than a post-mortem of past work, it’s a chance to engage your team and support them to find ways to excel.

It can strengthen relationships

When we create a feedback culture, we’re creating an environment of trust and openness. Clear communication channels give people the space to have open dialogue that addresses disagreements, differences of opinion, and biases – before they have a wider impact on the team.

It can help leaders become more self-aware

A feedback culture needs to be circular. Whether it’s group feedback work, one to one sessions, or 360 feedback on your role in the business, every interaction will give you valuable insight not only into your team and your business, but your role as leader. Use this to reflect on your strengths and areas for improvement.

It can help you avoid major mistakes

Creating a safe space for regular communication gives everyone the chance to raise problems before they become major challenges. When people are comfortable to share without blame or repercussion you can stay a step ahead of any significant bumps in the road.

Get better at giving feedback

So we know feedback is powerful, but how can we deliver it more effectively?

Choose the right time

If feedback is going to land, the person receiving it (and giving it) needs to be in the right frame of mind. If someone has had a super busy day or a recent disagreement, it’s usually better to choose a more neutral time.

Be specific

Vague feedback is unlikely to have a lasting impact. Get specific on the action, piece of work, or challenge, and exactly what was great, or the opportunities it offers going forward. 

Make it a two-way process

Any feedback session should be a conversation. Give the receiver a chance to respond, make sure you actively listen to their perspective, and invite them to contribute to a way forward.

Keep the focus on the future

All feedback should have a clear future action attached to it. Research shows that when we’re criticised for past behaviour we’re not motivated to change, but when feedback taps into future goals we get a rush of dopamine and are more likely to react positively.

Get better at receiving feedback

A strong feedback culture is a 360-degree process. We can all take steps to make sure we’re in the best place to receive and act on feedback we get.

  • Be up front and lead by example – make it clear you want feedback to grow as a leader.
  • Get specific – ask for feedback on your effectiveness in your latest meeting or get the opinions of your direct reports on your leadership.
  • Actively listen – avoid becoming defensive if you don’t agree with feedback, try not to judge and ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding.
  • Express gratitude – try to see every interaction as a chance to learn, thank people for the insights received and be open about your next steps.


Embed it and see the impact

Building feedback into all areas of the business will keep it firmly front of mind. If you can make it less an annual box-ticking initiative and more a foundation of the way you communicate as a team, you’ll start to see the power it can have.  For your leadership, the growth of your people, and the productivity of the work you do.