Anxious to give a team member feedback and know you should?

Anxious to give a team member feedback and know you should?

Worried you’ll hurt someone (or they’ll get emotional) if you give them feedback?

Don’t believe you can give your manager feedback?

A recent @LBS Executive client in one of our coaching sessions identified 3 beliefs for himself:

• Feedback means criticism, constructive input; ‘feedback’ is never positive
• He feared they’d “get emotional” which meant tears or anger
• A compliment – criticism – compliment ‘sandwich’ was the safest approach

My belief (based on 1000’s of hours of coaching, leadership development, programmes and decades of experience):


So what?

Feedback is both

• “positive” – confidence building, reinforcing someone’s belief in themselves about something they do well and
• “negative” or “constructive” – competence building, helping someone improve in an area that would serve them well.

The COIN Model is a brilliant model for giving both confidence and competence building feedback (and for receiving feedback but that’s another topic).

It’s 4 easy steps.

C – Context – where and when was the occasion on which you want to give feedback (eg. a specific meeting, a zoom call, a presentation; yesterday, this morning, Monday)

O – Observation – what did you observe the person doing? Be ‘clean’ in your language. Identify the behaviour the person exhibited – what did they say or do that you want to praise or improve them on? (eg. don’t say you were rude in the meeting, instead say “when you talked over Susan in yesterday’s meeting). Clean language removes the judgment, assumption or perceived intention behind the behaviour.

I – Impact – what impact did that behaviour have? On you, on others, on the business, on the customer, on the task and on the person themselves. It can be a practical or emotional impact. (eg. using the above talking over Susan example, the impact was that others did not speak freely, I was frustrated you didn’t let them finish speaking, you didn’t make a good impression).

N – Next Steps – what you want them to do next time (eg. let people finish speaking before you walk). In the case of positive feedback, it can be as simple as “keep doing it.”
A few top tips:

1. Over time, cumulatively give more confidence-building feedback than competence-building (fill the bank account with positive entries before making a withdrawal from the emotional bank account)
2. If someone cries, give them a tissue and let them cry. Afterwards ask them what they need? And what was going on for them hearing that feedback?
3. If someone gets angry, depending on the degree of anger, either reschedule the meeting for another time to let them cool off (don’t say cool off though 😉) or if it’s a smaller dose of anger, softly and compassionately as what’s going on for them in hearing that information?
4. If you’ve given more positives over time, you’re less likely to get an “emotional” response because they know you care, and you see the good they do too. Notice, we are uncomfortable with “emotional” reactions when we assume tears and anger and not happiness and gratitude.
5. Sandwiching a negative between two positives is rarely a good strategy. People won’t believe the good, so that was wasted. And they won’t completely understand the bad because it’s been mixed up and softened with all the other words.
6. You can give feedback upwards, sideways and downwards – all around; not just to those that report to you.

What thoughts and feelings do you have when you hear the word “feedback?”

What would be helpful for you to learn about motivating and influencing your team?

Share your horror stories of receiving feedback in the comments below (no names, keep it anonymous to protect the guilty) to learn what not to do!

For a complimentary template of the COIN model with prompts and an example, click here

Contact me here to arrange a complimentary session on how to give feedback more effectively.