Why is giving feedback so hard for some leaders?

Experienced Business Coach Rachel Stone from Action Coach and IQ4Business discusses some of the techniques you can adopt to provide constructive feedback to your employees, creating a productive and positive environment for both employer and employee.

"All coaches are leaders, but not all leaders are coaches"

Rachel StoneBusiness Coach

Why is giving feedback so hard for some leaders?

Guest Blog
Rachel Stone
Leadership in Business

Many leaders find it difficult to provide effective feedback when someone they manage does work which doesn’t meet the standard required.

Things I’ve seen include:

Avoiding it altogether and hoping that poor performance improves
Wishing that people would do what is asked of them properly
Moaning about someone’s poor performance to other people – but never speaking to the person concerned
Leaving their jobit’s true!

The fact is that providing great feedback to help someone improve is a skill that can be learned.

It’s pretty drastic to leave your job as a manager because someone else doesn’t do their work the way they need to! But sometimes despair sets in and you feel powerless when people around to seem to let you down.

There are many complex factors surrounding someone’s poor performance. Plus, there is the way you manage yourself, too i.e. how you lead others to deliver their work.

Firstly, prevention is better than cure


Making sure that you have set out the task correctly in the first place will help to prevent the need to feedback about work of a poor standard. Let’s assume for now that there isn’t a problem here (but believe me, you may be surprised at how many complex factors there are just contained in getting that right, too!)

• Set clear objectives which are specific, measurable, agreed and actioned-based, realistic and timebound (SMART)
• Create a clearly defined set of standards about the work you want to see.
• Explain what, how and how well. Some people need to know “why” too.
• Check and clarify that the person understands – ask him/her to relay back to you what they have understood.
• (Don’t ask “Have you understood?” because they will say “Yes” in most cases.)
• You might be shocked to hear what they have taken in and interpreted about what they think you said!
• Check in regularly guide people at regular milestones.

If things go wrong

If, despite all your best efforts to set up the work initially, if the work completed is not right, then there needs to be a bit of research into the reasons for this. Never assume you know why without finding out properly what has happened.

11 Top Tips for providing feedback on poor standard of work:

1. Keep your emotions out of it.
2. Find out the REASONS why this happened.
3. PREPARE to give feedback. Ask the person to prepare to talk it through with you. Give them time to do this.
4. Seek first to understand, then to be understood – one of Coveys’ Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s not about you and your disappointment right now. Investigate with an open mind.
5. You can’t change the past, but you can influence what happens next.
6. Avoid asking the question “Why….” As this can be accusatory and puts the person on the defensive.
7. Remember that the most important thing is to prevent a repeat of the poor standard work.
8. The feedback process is a learning process. What can you learn and change from this? What can the person concerned learn and change?
9. Be mindful that there may be factors outside of the person’s control that led to aspects of the poor performance.
10. Keep notes on what is discussed.
11. Make an improvement plan for the person and for yourself. It all starts with you!

Feedback is a PROCESS. Have you got a checklist for providing feedback?

About Rachel Stone

Having worked in a variety of sectors at senior levels, including retail, manufacturing and education Rachel was driven to start her own Business Coaching and Leadership Training Company, which became very successful. This led her to ActionCOACH & IQ4Business. Her purpose is to make an impact in the world of work in East Sussex (Eastbourne, Heathfield, Hailsham) and Kent (Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone) by delivering expert business coaching and leadership training. She believes in the power of transformational leadership, which means all leaders she works with become transformational leaders using coaching skills.

For support and advice on how to progress with your business goals get in touch and one of our team will contact you to discuss you needs.