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Feedback - is it an awkward conversation or happening in the flow of work?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

I recently gave a workshop on the topic of being a good people leader, and one of the things we discussed was giving feedback.

I had included a sample script to convey a formal and difficult message that someone was not meeting performance expectations.

Someone from the audience said, “that sounds too formal”.

And in a sense - they were right.

It is much better to create a dynamic with your team where feedback is a non-event, because it is offered regularly and in the usual flow of work.


So how do you create a team dynamic where feedback gets offered in the “flow of work”? Here are some ideas:

  • Create a cadence of regular (ideally weekly) 1:1 check-ins - This creates the time, space and permission to talk the things that go right, and inevitably go wrong. It takes the pressure off of feedback being an “event” that only happens when something goes wrong. Include a recurring agenda item that prompts both positive and constructive feedback - it could be “what is going well this week”, and “what we need to work on”, or “wins and learning lessons”.

  • Get in the habit of defining what done “looks like” - When you give instructions, make sure that you define what the finished product looks like. This gives you and the person you are assigning work to, a much better chance of delivering what you want, thereby reducing the need to critique after-the-fact.

I am looking for you to research the top 3 options, and I am looking for a one-page memo that covers the top advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as costs.

  • Use a “feedforward” approach to encourage a continuous improvement mindset - Instead of just looking back and what we might do differently, we can also look forward to what we might try in the future. When we do this, we embed a growth / continuous improvement mindset into our team, thereby making "feedback" easier to digest and a normal part of our learning process. To use feedforward, take a few minutes after a big initiative and task, and ask your team questions like:

How can we use what we learned here in the future? What might we change next time we approach a similar situation?

  • Share your “failures”, growth opportunities and ask for feedback yourself - because - let’s face it - its much easier for employees to accept feedback (and being an imperfect, mistake-making human) when their leader goes first!


When you make feedback happen in the flow of work, you’ll likely have less need for those “awkward” conversations. And if you do need to have them (which will still happen), you will feel more confident as a leader, knowing you’ve done your part in conveying feedback in a timely and clear way.

If you or your team need help with developing a plan for providing effective feedback at your workplace, contact me at .

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