When Giving Feedback

As a business owner much like a parent you need to give feedback to people that are in your charge. They need to hear from you as often as possible so they know how they are doing.

The feedback however, needs to

Be Clear

Tell them what they are doing to please and what they are not doing well. And use a language that the person understands. Know too that it is not useful to just say,

“You are good at speaking to clients” This is vague.

And even if it is positive feedback it will not make an impact. Try,

“The way you dealt with the clients from Zoom Apple Limited today was good. You were polite, patient and averted what would have been a bad situation for us. Thank you” It is specific and immediate.

Remember, positive feedback is not the same as praise. Praise tells someone you are happy with them and that they are performing well. While it feels good, praise does not give enough information to understand what is being done effectively so that we the behaviour can be can repeated.

When delivered immediately, with specifics and thoughtfully, feedback can lead to better performance.

Be honest and kind

Some people do not like being told the “the bad stuff” but if you are honest it will serve the other person well. If it targets a specific behavior and tells them what they do need to work on. The negative will tell them what they need to focus on to change. And if you deliver this with kindness and start from a good place. It will be received well.

Giving negative feedback can be tricky and quite risky. However, if you are coming from a good place, are honest and kind you will not be met with negative repercussions.

Be tactful

Choose the right moment to give the feedback. In as much as it is better to say something immediately; do not rush in with your opinion. Wait to have the person’s full attention and to be alone with them. It is not useful to do it in front of other members of staff or customers. You will only create resentment.

If you are tactful you will get a useful response and the other person will give you their full attention and listen carefully. So eliminate distractions, including your phone and laptop, and focus fully on the person you are giving the feedback to.

Having your phone present, even if you’re not looking at it, is a distraction and reduces your ability to connect with others.

Be Listening

Listen carefully to what the other person has to say and resist the impulse to interrupt them. Even if you disagree with them, let them tell you their version. If you find yourself disagreeing with a version of events, wait and do not react immediately. Do not jump in or offer contradictory evidence or challenge the other person. If you do; you will look as though you have already made up your mind. And you may decrease the likelihood of them listening to your feedback in the future.

Great leaders are great listeners. And when you listen, you will gain more information which will help you and everyone in the future.


A Zambian site sharing quick read articles around work, money and adulting life with selective interviews and quotes.
The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo