10-steps to Delivering Constructive Feedback

10-steps to Delivering Constructive Feedback

By Aoife Harrington, September 2010

Smart people see feedback as a rich source of information that can help them to recognise and celebrate their successes whilst highlighting areas that they can improve upon thus ensuring their continued success into the future. Smart organisations create a culture in which feedback is not only accepted but it is promoted, valued and both given and received in abundance.

Whether it comes in the form of a 360 degree feedback initiative, as part of an annual performance review or, informally, in the daily exchange of conversation between managers and direct reports, feedback needs to be well thought out and appropriately delivered. Not surprisingly, feedback is all in the delivery. Delivered incorrectly, feedback can lead to anger, resentment, confusion and disillusionment but if delivered correctly it can encourage people, help them to build on their strengths and realise their full potential.

From time to time, we all have to give someone else feedback on what isn’t working in terms of their behaviour or performance but whilst giving negative feedback isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be unpleasant for either the giver or the receiver. By following these 10 steps, you can make the situation more manageable, palatable – and even beneficial – for everyone involved.

10-steps to Delivering Constructive Feedback

1. Tell the person, in advance, that you would like to give them some feedback on their performance – ask them would that be ok. Give them the rationale for providing the feedback.

2. Be clear about what it is that you are going to say in advance – prepare yourself for the feedback. What are the key messages that you want the person to walk away with?

3. Give the feedback in a timely manner – as soon after the event as possible. Find a suitably quiet and safe place to deliver the feedback, not in front of other people.

4. Follow this simple rule; Positive – Area for Development – Positive. Specifically, begin the feedback on a positive note, i.e. tell the person what you observe them to be doing well, introduce an area that you feel they would benefit from developing (further) and finish on another area of positivity and strength.

5. Keep the focus on behaviour and not on the person. It’s very important that the individual doesn’t feel that the feedback is a personal attack on themselves and their personality. e.g. instead of saying that the person isn’t very clear when deliver presentations, tell them that some of the points they raised in a recent presentation lacked clarity.

6. Don’t generalise – be specific, referring to specific incidences, times and events – try to be as descriptive as possible.

7. Focus on the skills and behaviours that you would like to see reinforced or changed and again provide a rationale for this.

8. Always make suggestions for improvements / suggest alternative ways of doing things e.g. when giving someone feedback on their presentation skills perhaps suggest that if they look out at the audience and maintain eye contact, their voice will carry better and they will be heard clearly by everyone in the room – as well as engaging with their audience more effectively.

9. Check for understanding – make sure the person understood you and took the correct messages away from the feedback. Give them time to speak or retort, listening to any concerns or issues that they raise.

10. Always finish on a positive note.


To learn more about our  services, please contact the office: +353-1-6688891 or info@davittcorporatepartners.com

Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Leadership in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


Aoife Harrington is a Registered Work and Organisational Psychologist at DavittCorporatePartners – Corporate Psychologists