How to give feedback to a co-worker – Like a Pro

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

If you are giving feedback to a co-worker, there is a ‘right’ way to do it.

Perhaps you have a colleague who is struggling to achieve because they’re not doing something? Or maybe your co-worker is upsetting other people without realizing it? Then helping them to make behavioral adjustments, using examples, is called feedback, or more specifically, constructive feedback.

First of all, I would like to clarify a few things that will help you give constructive feedback to a co-worker:

  1. There is no such thing as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ feedback, if it helps the person you are giving it to
  2. When you provide feedback, it is a gift of generosity (unless your job/task is to specifically do this, like a trainer or a supervisor)
  3. Feedback must attempt to provoke a change in the person you are providing it to
  4. Feedback must be clear, precise and not ‘sugar-coated’ – or else it will result in confusion
  5. Feedback must be supported with real examples

With these things hopefully clear, here are a few guidelines on how to approach it:

  • Ask permission. Get permission from the person before you give feedback
  • Do it in private. Receiving feedback can be an emotionally sensitive matter for some people, so give them privacy when you deliver your feedback
  • If appropriate, deliver your feedback as a question. This is less confrontational. E.g. instead of “You should customers, instead of emailing them.”, you could ask “if you called customers, instead of emailing them, could that work better?
  • Be sensitive. Don’t shoot with both barrels – deliver your feedback sensitively (but don’t sugar-coat it)
  • Don’t turn it into a fight. If your feedback isn’t appreciated, don’t start an argument, but instead be gracious and walk away
  • Prepare to be wrong. You might be mistaken about why you’re giving the feedback, so accept that your feedback could be wide of the mark
  • Follow-up. At a suitable time after you provided your feedback, check if there are any other questions and that your feedback was well accepted

Does this help you provide feedback?

Has this helped you prepare to give a co-worker feedback? Have your say by leaving a comment below, or start a discussion in the community forums.

Helpful resources on providing feedback sensitively

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This post is part 5 of 20 in the series Effective Communication
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About the author /

Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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1 Comment

  1. real-time tracking

    I enjoy reading through an article that can make people think.

    Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


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