Giving feedback is an inevitable part of a leader’s role. You are responsible for empowering your team members to be the best versions of themselves.

But giving feedback is a skill and, like all skills, it takes focus, preparation and practice.

So here’s my what, to whom, why, when, where and how to give feedback!

What feedback do you want to give?

Be as specific as possible so the individual knows exactly what they’ve done well or what needs to be improved. And if it’s a ‘difficult’ conversation, be sure to focus on facts not hearsay or opinions. Clearly identify what the individual did and the impact it had.

Who are you delivering the feedback to?

What do you know about them, their frames of reference, their goals and ambitions, and their communication style and preferences? Use these insights to frame and contextualise the feedback in a way that they will resonate and connect with.

Why are you giving them feedback?

What’s your purpose or objective? Remember, feedback should be focused on helping someone develop and grow, so the conversation needs to cover not only what they can improve, but suggestions of how they can do so and a clear plan of action.

When will you deliver the feedback?

Feedback is best given in the moment, not just limited to annual performance reviews. It should be regular and in as real-time as possible. Aim for informal, on-the-spot feedback as well as more formal feedback through your 1-2-1 meetings. Also, consider when you will check in with your team member to review how they have improved based on the feedback provided.

Where will you deliver the feedback?

Again, consider the individual. Where will they feel most comfortable? Some people love public recognition, others hate being the centre of attention. Some people appreciate the professionalism of an office environment, others may prefer the more relaxed nature of a cafe. Either way, the more comfortable they are, the more receptive they will be to the feedback you have to provide.

How will you deliver the feedback?

Feedback, especially if it’s potentially sensitive or nuanced, is best delivered in person. Remember your choice of words, body language, facial expressions and tone of voice will have a significant impact on how it’s received.

Stay focused on the end goal

If you need to give a team member feedback today, be sure to approach it from the perspective of empowering them to be the best they can be.