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How to Deliver Better Professional Feedback


Feedback is one of the greatest contributors to job satisfaction. As millennials become the largest generation in the workforce, emphasizing professional growth is more important than ever. Forward-thinking organizations address this need by ensuring that managers schedule regular one-on-one feedback meetings with their people. These conversations provide an avenue to discuss aspirations and challenges while promoting professional growth and encourage retention. Follow these tips to help your people get the most out of one-on-one feedback meetings.

Be curious. Take a genuine interest in your employee’s path. Ask questions that will help gain a deeper understanding of their needs and aspirations. This will set the stage for a one-on-one meeting that is productive and non-judgmental.

Be supportive. Emphasize and demonstrate the confidence you have in your employee’s ability to grow. Let them tell you what they want to achieve and help them build a concrete roadmap to get them there.

Be specific. Specificity is key when giving feedback. If you’re recommending someone change their behavior, be specific about the behavior you’ve observed, understand where they’re coming from, and let them know why it needs to change. For example, telling someone they’ve “got to be more professional” is not as productive as saying “I’ve noticed that you’ve missed several meetings this week. Is there something going on that you want to talk to me about?”

Be collaborative. People are more likely to buy into a plan they’ve helped create. Rather than telling an employee what you think they should do differently, ask them how they are planning to grow or improve their performance. This empowers people to be self-driven.

Use the GROW Model. The GROW Model provides a memorable roadmap for almost any conversation about change. Use it to make your conversation actionable.

  • G is for Goal. What change do you want to make? What is your goal?
  • R is for Reality. Where are you now, relative to your goal?
  • O is for Options. What are all the actions you could take, and the pros/cons/obstacles of each?
  • W is for What’s Next? What actions will you take? By when? Schedule a follow up meeting to ensure accountability.

Listen. Ask challenging, open-ended questions and make sure you are spending at least 80% of the meeting listening. This empowers your employee to actively brainstorm solutions to their own problems. They’ll leave the meeting more committed to following through, and they’ll be more confident solving similar problems in the future.

Be a loyal partner. Show your employee how you’re going to help them realize their goals. Be sure to acknowledge their progress as well as your own along the way.

Open the floor. Finish the conservation by asking for their feedback. How did they find the one-on-one session? Are there ways that you can make the next session more valuable for them? This is a good way to strengthen relationships with your people and to improve future feedback rounds.

Feedback conversations can be challenging for both parties, but they’re worth it. Applying this structure to your one-on-one meetings will show employees that you have their best interests at heart and are committed to their development. You’ll improve job satisfaction for your people and motivate them to take ownership of their careers. On top of that, your organization will benefit by retaining great talent.

Corey Bainerman
Organizational Development Coach