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Giving Feedback for Growth

I left you hanging in that last blog! Are you ready for tips on how to give feedback?

So you’ve encouraged your employees to develop a growth mindset (understanding that our brains are able to learn and change as a result of feedback – even mistakes) and you’ve created a calm environment, one in which employees are not feeling threatened. How do you actually deliver the feedback – the information employees need so they can improve?!

Begin by considering your timing (Renninger, 2020). You want to give employees feedback when it is relevant and will be meaningful for them. Too often we wait to give feedback until an annual review along with ratings on several attributes and organizational values. However, getting feedback during these events is often not developmental or relevant because the issues and problems have happened and everyone is looking at them in the distance from the rear-view mirror. It’s difficult to remember details about the events, the skills that were used, skills that were lacking and where exactly things went off the rails. Feedback for growth is most helpful when it is provided as close to the event as possible.

Second, the feedback you provide should be selective and specific (King, 1999). Focus on just one or two behaviors (things people do) and describe each in detail – noting the environment, the people involved, and what occurred (from your point of view and/or others’) and the impact of the behavior.

Third, provide coaching to help the employee learn a new skill or use a skill they already have in a new way. In this regard you are “closing the gap” between where the employee is now and where you would like them to be (DeNisi & Kluger, 2000). The coaching should be supportive, expressing your belief that the employee can do this, and specific, expressing what they can do to improve. This coaching can begin by asking a question and inviting the employee to suggest solutions (Renninger, 2020). Once the issue is pointed out to the employee, they may have ideas for how they can improve or come up with some strategies that they think will work for them. If they don’t have any ideas, here you can provide a few suggestions to get them thinking about how you can work together.

If you put all of the steps together, your feedback might look like this:

Timing is Everything
You’re leading a team meeting in which everyone is brainstorming ideas for providing new services. One person in particular (“Ali”) interrupts others to offer their own ideas, speaking over others and cutting others off.
At the end of the meeting, you say “Ali, do you have a few minutes to talk about how this meeting went?”
Remind: Growth Mindset
“Thanks for meeting with me, Ali. I want to give you some feedback to help you be a more effective team player. As you might remember, I believe that we all have things we can improve upon and I have seen you make great strides since joining the time a year ago. I especially appreciate your willingness to share all of your ideas so freely.”
Specific Behavior + Impact
“In the team meeting I noticed that you interrupted teammates 5 different times when we were discussing new services we could offer. There was a lot of energy in the room and a lot of ideas were being generated. And when you spoke over others it was difficult to hear everyone’s ideas.”
Coaching & Growing
“What are your thoughts for how we can proceed in future team meetings like this one?”
“What are some ways we can share ideas without talking over one another?”

Providing feedback for growth communicates to others that you care about them and you want them to be effective members of your team. The more you practice giving this developmental feedback, the easier it will get and the better you will get at it!


DeNisi, A. S., & Kluger, A. N. (2000). Feedback effectiveness: Can 360-degree appraisals be improved? Academy of Management, 14(1), 129-139. https://doi.org/10.5465/ame.2000.2909845

King, J. (1999). Giving feedback. British Medical Journal, 318, S2-7200. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7200.2

Renninger, L. (2020, January). The secret to giving great feedback.

. TED Talks. https://www.ted.com/talks/leeann_renninger_the_secret_to_giving_great_feedback?language=en

Wigert, B, & Dvorak, N. (2019, May 16). Feedback is not enough. Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/257582/feedback-not-enough.aspx