All individuals want an honest assessment of their behavior so they can identify potential areas of improvement. While it seems very straightforward, this assessment needs to be translated very carefully because it may deeply impact the performance of an individual in a good way – or a bad way.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many people from different backgrounds and cultures, and I’ve found that the key to providing quality feedback is the classic idea of “understanding your audience.” There are many ways to accomplish this, but I will lay out some of the basics here:

  1. Check in and touch base with the individual as often as you believe is needed, so the individual realizes you’re there and available to help when necessary.
  2. Ensure achievements are properly recognized: Did the team achieve a big milestone? Did the individual achieve a personal milestone? These are all reasons to celebrate and reinforce positive behavior.
  3. Take the individual out of the work environment: a walk-talk, lunch, coffee. This will definitely enhance the relationship and bring some needed knowledge about their interests, personal facts, fears, etc.

So, understanding your audience will ensure that you can translate feedback properly, but quality feedback must be provided from a neutral space. It is not your call to make a change – the individual receiving feedback is the one who will choose to change or not.

Feedback must also be shared on a regular basis – as part of the check-in and touching base mentioned above. There’s no reason to wait for an annual review and sandwich negative feedback at that time. This won’t work simply because this feedback won’t be powerful enough to drive an adjustment in the behavior of the individual, which is exactly what you are looking for.

A positive attitude is part of the process; the focus must be on the partnership and not on “This is absolutely wrong.” Also, remember to focus on the issue at hand and leave your emotions in check; feedback can’t be judgmental of the individual receiving the feedback. Remember: judgment is just your opinion about an individual’s character.

Self-preparation before delivering the feedback is also important. Some sort of self-evaluation must be completed, and make sure your intended outcome is clear in your mind. I also try to think about a few key messages that absolutely need to be delivered.

So what do you think? Do you have any other tips or techniques to share feedback with an individual? Would you be curious to learn more about other techniques as well? Let me know in the comment section below.