The Road Ahead

Our analysis of the major opportunities and challenges facing the voluntary sector in 2024. Learn more

Giving effective feedback

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Use this series of pages to help your team maintain and improve their performance at work.

This page explains how to give them effective feedback.

Why giving effective feedback matters

Giving effective feedback is a key part of managing performance. It helps the people you manage understand:

  • what they’re doing well
  • where they could improve.

When delivered effectively, feedback can support learning and development. If handled badly, it can be demotivating for everyone involved.

Framing feedback

Try not to view feedback as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Instead, it’s helpful to think of feedback as either ‘reinforcing’ or ‘developmental’.

Reinforcing feedback tells the individual what went well. It affirms that they’re doing a good job and encourages them to keep doing what they’re doing.

Developmental feedback lets individuals know what could be better. It doesn’t focus on what went wrong, but instead helps people see how they could improve.

How to give effective feedback

Here are some principles you should follow.

  • Encourage self-reflection. First ask: ‘how did you feel it went?’ Listen actively to their response. This will encourage them to listen to and take your feedback on board.
  • Be timely. Try to give your feedback as soon as possible to the event, and in a comfortable environment for both parties.
  • Be specific. Explain exactly what the issue or concern is and provide specific examples to illustrate when this has happened. If you’re vague, you risk it sounding like a personal attack.
  • Be non-judgmental. Try to use non-judgemental language or phrases. So instead of saying: ‘you’re not doing this right’, try saying: ‘this is different to what I expected’.
  • Be balanced. If you can, share what they did well, as well as what they could do differently next time.
  • Own it yourself. Ask for and own any feedback that is given to you.
  • Look ahead. Try not to focus on too much on what went wrong – flip it, so the focus is on what they could do better next time. Start with the phrase: ‘It could be even better if …’. This creates the opportunity for development and improvement.

For more information on giving effective feedback, read Acas’s guide on managing people.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 01 August 2022

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