02 May 2023

The six biggest mistakes managers make when giving feedback


Feedback is a critical part of being a manager, whether you are receiving it yourself or providing it to somebody else.

We talk about having courageous conversations at Cape Coaching and Development because it takes real courage to speak up and share thoughts in a constructive way.

In this article, we talk about the six biggest mistakes managers make when giving feedback.

1. Not making time for feedback

Making time to have feedback conversations is critical, no matter how busy managers may be, because it is important for the feedback to be given close enough near to the event that's happened.

Providing prompt feedback is crucial for effective communication and improvement.

2. Softening the feedback

People managers tend to soften their feedback too much - and often give the traditional “feedback sandwich” - which means that the impact of what they are trying to share does not always land with the other person - whether it is positive or improvement feedback.

They might also start the conversation with questions like “how are you?” or “how are things going?”), when there's actually something that needs to be said or addressed where getting straight to the point will have more impact.

3. Assuming how the feedback is going to land

The third element of giving good feedback which often people managers miss is assuming:

  • that they know how it's going to land with the other person,
  • what the other person is going to say or
  • that the other person knows this already.

Going into these conversations with an open mind and being able to start a feedback dialogue is extremely important.

4. Not taking accountability for their part in what they are giving feedback on

The fourth mistake that managers often make is not taking accountability for their part in whatever they're giving feedback on.

It could be because the task or expectations were not clear enough in the first place.

Perhaps they asked for something to be done “as soon as possible” and it was open to interpretation.

Or they weren't clear on what skills the person had - or didn't have - to help them with the activity they were doing.

Accepting your part in what you could have gone better when giving feedback is important.

5. Not giving impactful feedback

People managers need to make sure that their feedback is useful and impactful and think about what the positive intent behind giving the feedback is.

And to do that, they must give context around the feedback they're giving (e.g., when it happened, what action the person took and what impact that had) - whether they're giving positive or improvement feedback.

Managers need to be specific and have good intent behind the feedback that they share.

6. Not focusing on ‘how' they have the feedback conversation

The final aspect of giving feedback that people managers often don't get right is not what they say but how they say it - and how they open the conversation.

Managers need to find good open questions where they invite a response from the person they're giving the feedback to; and show good listening skills, empathy and presence when having those conversations.

Great feedback conversations and the impact they can have on an individual are one of the most rewarding aspects of being a people manager.

Here, at CAPE, we help create brilliant people managers. If you want to learn more about yourself and how you impact on others, and develop your own style of management, contact us today for more information: www.wearyourcape.co.uk.