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  • Writer's pictureJenni Schierman


Constructive, valuable, positive, useful, practical…When it comes to feedback there are many ways to describe the kind we want to give and receive. Right?

Unfortunately, like many leadership functions, this is one of those things they didn’t teach us in high school and when it goes wrong it tends to go really wrong.

I spent the last several years in the private higher education system. I was paying someone to give me feedback. This was helpful for several reasons. After working in a corporate environment for close to two decades I had seen many examples of what not to do when it came to giving feedback. I had less examples of what a good job looked like.

As I started my graduate program there was the expectation that we would give and receive feedback from our peers as part of our coaching role plays. This required that we not only praise the positive aspects of our cohorts’ skills, but learn how to, in real time, provide feedback that could help someone grow.

If feedback is an area that you have struggled with, either giving or receiving, I would like to provide some tools that you can apply the next time you are challenged.


1. Don’t Take It Personal – First, let me say that I am not telling you to ignore what is being said. I am also not telling you to discount it as applying to you. I am suggesting that you are going to need to learn to not internalize some of the feedback that you receive. Take the information and message that is being delivered, and you decide based on the relationship you have with the person delivering the feedback what parts you keep and what parts you discard.

2. Ask for it Often – Waiting until your boss has time to give you feedback is rarely going to get you real opportunities for growth. In my experience these generally come during a quarterly, semi annual or annual review and don’t have much in the way of specific examples. Instead take the opportunity to ask when you feel there may have been an opportunity for some feedback. Don’t wait months until neither of you can remember the moment any longer.


1. Start with the Positives – Sure, you could be that boss that points out the negative things, but wouldn’t you rather celebrate a few wins and see how your staff responds? I’m not suggesting that you ignore the areas that need correction. Simply begin the conversation with the positive items. This allows people to relax and take in the information instead of having their fight or flight response take over and them not hear anything you have said.

2. Include a Solution – If you provide specific feedback (always suggested) but you don’t give someone a suggested alternative action sometimes this can set them up for failure. If they knew a different way, they might have already tried it, right? So, prepare a suggested solution that you feel would work better when you present your feedback. Maybe a presentation didn’t go so well, and you happen to know this group responds better to less words and more graphics. Suggest that for next time. Whatever the situation is, try to provide a suggested solution.


Another step would be to hire an executive coach. Learning to give and receive feedback is just one of the areas that I work with my clients on. If this is something that is holding you back, schedule a call today to discuss. Click here to schedule your complimentary new client call.

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