7 Ways to Share Effective Feedback

Bobby Powers
11 min readJul 9, 2018
Photo Credit: Mark Adriane

In the past two weeks, two people have thanked me for giving them unsolicited feedback.

I was struck by this because society tells us that people hate critical feedback. While that theory is mostly true, studies show that most of us want more feedback than we currently receive. Employee engagement firm Office Vibe found that 65 percent of employees want more feedback. They also found that 82 percent of employees appreciate receiving feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

However, many hesitate to share critical feedback because they don’t know how to do it effectively or they’re worried about how the person on the receiving end will respond.

What Happens When Feedback Isn’t Shared?

I discovered the tough answer to this question when I was 24. As a freshly minted MBA grad, I accepted a management position leading a team of 50 people in a retail store. A couple months into that role, I had to fire one of my team leads — a person who had been with the company for five years.

The termination discussion went about as poorly as one could imagine. When I told the team member he was being fired, he cussed me out and told me I had no authority to fire him. Security guards ultimately had to escort the individual out of the building as he yelled and swore at his now-former co-workers.

Although it was extremely difficult to go through this situation as a young manager, this experience taught me two important things:

(1) Refusing to share feedback is unkind and unfair. When I joined the company, I found out that every one of this employee’s past managers had been too scared to share feedback with him. He had a long history of treating customers and team members poorly, but despite numerous complaints, no one had addressed the issue with him because they feared he would respond aggressively. No one told him there was a problem, so he kept behaving the way he always did. By the time I came along, the train was too far down the tracks; he simply wasn’t able to turn around his behavior, and he lost his job. That really sucks, and the situation probably could have been avoided if previous managers had done their jobs and shared the tough messages that needed to be shared.

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Bobby Powers

Voracious reader | Writes about Leadership, Books, and Productivity | 1M+ views across 15+ publications & magazines | Visit me at BobbyPowers.net