Common Purpose / 15 May 2023

Thriving, Not Crying: The Subtle Art of Delivering Constructive Feedback as a Leader

The giving and receiving of feedback is something you will encounter countless times over the course of your career, and while it’s not a particularly fun phenomenon of the working world, it is absolutely essential.

Feedback and its importance

Feedback fosters growth on both a personal and team level, and it can make or break the success of the work you’re doing individually, and as a whole. Here’s the catch we’ve alluded to – giving feedback is not always an enjoyable task for leaders, but with the right delivery, you can forge stronger relationships with your colleagues to ultimately help them to thrive in their work. So with that in mind, we decided to outline three key tips that will help you to deliver feedback in a way that’s constructive, respectful and consistent – no crying in these parts!

Be specific

It is so important to be specific about the behaviours or actions you're delivering your feedback on. If you are unable to pinpoint where improvement could be implemented, this can cause confusion, or worse, a miscommunication resulting in something else getting attention when it’s not necessary.

For example, instead of saying, ‘Your presentation wasn’t good enough,’ you could instead say, ‘Your presentation didn’t have enough of a visual element, which made it less engaging.’ If applicable, you can also suggest a counter-resolution to this to set a standard – ‘Next time, consider adding more imagery or videos to your presentation to make it more engaging.'

Give feedback in a safe space

It’s not unusual for someone to immediately put their defenses up when they receive feedback. Because of this, it’s paramount that you deliver feedback in a place where the recipient can feel psychologically safe. This might be somewhere that’s private so that you and your colleague can speak openly without fear of other people listening, or simply by sitting down next to them and ensuring you are at their eye-level. These small gestures can make a big difference when it comes to delivering feedback.

To add, you should always be careful about the language you use. Painting something to be a failure can be disheartening to an individual. Instead, try to keep your language in a positive tone – flip the rhetoric from ‘this is a failure’ to ‘this is a learning opportunity.

Be the example

Just as it’s part of your job to give feedback, it’s also important that you receive feedback, and implement it as proactively as possible.

For example, when you are giving others feedback, encourage an open dialogue and ask them if there’s anything you could do differently that might help them feel better supported to learn and grow as they implement this feedback.

Moreover, if someone does give you feedback, ensure you keep an open mind and be prepared to act on it to the best of your ability. If others see you respond well to feedback, they’ll be more likely to respond well to the feedback you give them.

Mastering the art of constructive feedback is crucial for the success of a workplace, but this success truly lies in the delivery and implementation of the feedback itself. By following these three simple, yet impactful tips, you’ll set yourself (and many others!) up to thrive.


Who we are. What we stand for.

Who we are

Stay connected with us

Follow us to learn more about who we are and what we do