Feedback - The breakfast of champions

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Feedback - The breakfast of champions

A trait of a successful leader


In this post ill discuss about how to provide feedback. I also discuss how it's done incorrectly. I also share a framework that has worked wonderfully for me. Do not miss the last two points.

The Skill

Giving feedback is an underrated skill (& a responsibility) of a leader. When used effectively, it can propel professional & personal development.

Has your leader/manager ever told you:

  • You need to do better.

  • Good Job / Well done!!

  • This needs improvement.

And nothing more!

Generic Feedback is useless

These are what we call generic feedback which is not going to help. To make things worse a lot of times it's even said way too late (hello appraisal season).

How do provide feedback

Here are some tips on giving feedback I follow. It has worked greatly for me. Below are the steps I follow

  1. Focus on the problem (Never on the person)

  2. The Talk

  3. Action plan

  4. Reinstate confidence

  5. Be Patient and Monitor

Let's look at the steps in detail

Focus on the problem and never on the person

Say you have hired a person who is talented but has been performing poorly over the last few days/weeks & not delivering as expected. The moment you notice a dip, start collecting data points for poor productivity and monitor the situation for a few more days (It's never a good idea to "React"). If the situation does not change, it's time to discuss the "problem". Only the problem!

The Talk

Start by conveying that you have observed a drop in performance/output & share the data points. The details of these data points are critical. The details could be emails, dates/times of certain events/behavior, etc.

Without these data points, the conversation would not be helpful to anyone.

(Anyone who thinks, it's not easy but hey you are the leader, if you don't take care of the team, who will?)

After this, It's important to understand what happened from the team member's point of view. This is where as leaders we should show trust and practice empathy.

Action plan

Once the problem statement is clear (It could be a lack of skill, personal issues impacting work etc.), as a leader it is important to provide a solution via an action plan.

It should not be hard (assuming as a leader you have the experience) to look at the "details" of the data points & provide "specific suggestions" on how the situation could have been dealt with or what could've been done differently. Be as "thorough" as possible and ensure your team member can understand/relate.

Reinstate confidence (A critical step)

At this point, there is a great possibility that the underachieving team member recognizes the problem too. This is where as leaders, we should re-install the confidence in the team member by quoting the good things they have done in the past. Again be specific and provide details/data points of good work done. Details like an event, time/date of a scenario, behavior etc.

Be patient

Trust your team member, and give them enough time to implement the suggested actionable plan.


The feedback that drives progress is deliberate, specific, & future-focused. It's designed not just to inform but to facilitate growth and change.

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