4 minute read

How to give feedback that doesn't sting

As a manager, it's your job to give feedback to those who report to you. But sometimes, that feedback can be tough to deliver without hurting feelings.

1. Why feedback is important for managers

Feedback is one of the most important tools a manager has at their disposal. It allows them to assess how their team is performing and identify areas where improvements can be made. However, giving feedback can be a delicate task. If not done correctly, it can come across as criticism or even hostility. This can lead to employees feeling defensive and resentful, which will only hamper their performance in the future.

So how can you give feedback that is both constructive and positive? Here are a few tips:

2. How to give feedback that doesn't sting

1. Avoid using negative language

When giving feedback, it is important to avoid using words that could be interpreted as negative or critical. For example, instead of saying "you didn't do this correctly," try "let's explore how we can improve this." This minor change in language can make a big difference in how your team perceives your feedback.

2. Focus on the behavior, not the person

When giving feedback, always focus on the behavior that you want to change, not the person themselves. For example, rather than saying "you're lazy," try "I noticed that you didn't take the initiative to work on that project." This will help the person feel like you're critiquing their behavior, not them as a person.

3. Use "I" statements

When giving feedback, use "I" statements. For example, rather than saying "you need to do this differently," try "I feel like we could improve this by doing X." This will help the person feel like you're on their side and that you're working together to find a solution.

4. Be specific

It is important to be as specific as possible when giving feedback. Vague comments such as "you need to do better" are not helpful and will only serve to frustrate the person you're trying to help. Instead, focus on specific behaviors or actions that can be changed.

5. Avoid giving criticism that is not constructive.

There is a difference between constructive criticism and simply being critical. The latter will only serve to make the person feel bad about themselves and their work, which is not helpful. If you do have negative feedback, make sure that it is constructive and that you offer solutions or suggestions on how to improve.

6. Be aware of your tone

Your tone of voice can be just as important as the words you use when giving feedback. Avoid sounding judgmental, condescending, or angry. Instead, try to sound supportive and positive.

7. Offer praise and encouragement

In addition to offering constructive criticism, be sure to also praise and encourage your team when they are doing well. This will help them feel appreciated and motivated to continue performing at a high level.

By following these tips, you can give feedback that is both constructive and positive. This will help your team perform better and feel good about themselves and their work.

3. When to give feedback

Giving feedback is an important part of a manager's job, but it's not always easy to know when to give it. If you give feedback too often, your team may feel like you're constantly critiquing their work. On the other hand, if you don't give enough feedback, they may feel like you're not paying attention to their performance.

So how can you strike the right balance?

1. Give immediate feedback for urgent issues

If there is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed, such as a safety concern, it is important to give feedback immediately. This will help ensure that the problem is dealt with quickly and effectively.

2. Schedule regular check-ins for non-urgent issues

For non-urgent issues, it is best to schedule regular check-ins with your team. This will give you a chance to discuss their progress and offer feedback in a more relaxed setting.

4. Bonus content: How to receive feedback as a manager

As a manager, it is also important to be open to feedback from your team. This can be difficult, as no one likes to hear criticism of their work. However, feedback is essential for helping you improve as a manager and for ensuring that your team is performing at its best.

Here are a few tips for how to receive feedback:

1. Listen carefully

When you're receiving feedback, it's important to listen carefully and try to understand the other person's perspective. This will help you see the situation from their point of view and find a way to improve.

2. Don't take it personally

Remember that feedback is not about you as a person, it's about your work. Try to separate your personal feelings from the criticism and focus on what you can do to improve.

3. Be open-minded

It can be tempting to immediately reject feedback that you don't agree with. However, it's important to be open-minded and consider all feedback, even if you don't agree with it. You may find that there is some truth to what the other person is saying.

4. Thank the person for their feedback

Even if you don't agree with the feedback, it's important to thank the person for taking the time to give it. This shows that you value their input and are willing to listen to what they have to say.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you are open to feedback and that you can use it to improve your management skills.


Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of being a manager. However, it's not always easy to know how to give or receive feedback in a way that is helpful and constructive.

Tools like Waggle can be a great resource for managers when it comes to managing feedback. With Waggle, you can easily track your team's progress and identify areas where they need improvement. This makes it easier to give targeted feedback that will help your team perform better.

If you're struggling with how to give or receive feedback, why don't you give Waggle a try and see how it can help you manage the process?

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