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Brian Nolan

After having spent numerous years in management, I’ve come to the conclusion that the single biggest challenge that leaders face as managers, is in giving feedback to their employees. Managers wrestle every day with how to give an employee a reprimand, or constructive feedback. More importantly, they withhold giving praise because, as if keeping score, the recipient wasn’t reprimanded, so why should they now be praised? Through my experiences and in reading many books (e.g. The One Minute Manager, How Full is Your Bucket), I’ve put together 12 simple rules of giving feedback below.

  1. Tell your employees upfront that you will be giving them feedback.
  2. Do it often – you think about it often, right?…. Why are you holding back? Don’t wait for their review to give them feedback, employee reviews should be about their development plans.
  3. Be specific – Tell them what exactly did they do right or wrong. They’re likely to repeat what they did right.
  4. Give specific praise more often – people do more good than bad.
  5. Do not give negative feedback in public. If you embarrass the employee, the situation will become emotional and not about what they need to improve upon.
  6. Give feedback immediately. Don’t carry it around and save these thoughts for another time. The only exception to this is if you’re really angry–then pause, reflect and choose (PRC!)
  7. Explain how it made you feel (The So What).
  8. Set clear expectations for going forward – explain how you expect to see a change in behavior.
  9. Outline the consequences if the expectations are not met.
  10. Get feedback – ask your team how you are doing and how you can help them.
  11. Be a Coach – when giving feedback, think of yourself as a coach. Let the employee know that you want to help them be the best that they can be.
  12. Don’t “Oreo Cookie” it. This creates a situation in which your employees will look for a reprimand every time you praise them. It also discounts the praise. Don’t use….”but”. Use crucial conversations to provide context. For example, “I do understand that you work hard and care, I don’t want his feedback to take away from that in any way. I do need to address the fact that you’re arriving late to work too often….”

A Final Thought: A way to increase the amount of feedback you give is to talk to your self on a regular basis (don’t listen to yourself!). For example, state “ I give feedback. I give feedback often. I don’t wait and save it up for reviews.” Repeat that quote several times a day and you’ll train your brain to give feedback!

All the best,


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