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Art of giving feedback – my 6 main rules

One of the toughest things for me as a young manager was to learn to give feedback to my team members. No matter if good or bad, it was difficult. Especially if it has to be the bad one. Here is what I have learned over the years. It serves me quite well, but I would not dare to claim that this is the best or only way.


Try not to give feedback while angry. Feedback should be rational. And you will not sound or look rational screaming with a red face. Yes, we are all humans. Still, try to calm down before starting the meeting. Go for a walk.


The worst thing you can do while giving feedback is having general statements. Or telling all the things that come to your mind. The employee may feel that you only memorized the bad things. He will not understand your feedback as a motivation to improve. Note down the events and then go together through them. Analyze them and give feedback on this particular event only. It may happen that your employee was very good on Monday and bad on Wednesday in a similar situation. Knowing what triggered this change could result in having a happy team member who always performs at his best.

Procurement specific

We are procurement professionals. Hence focus on giving feedback around the procurement process your team member is taking care of. This should be about 80% of your feedback. One could argue that it is not only about the process. But if you have someone with a bad attitude you will probably not even bother to teach him how to do proper procurement. Again, this is a personal opinion. Choose your team based on attitude. Then teach them procurement.

Do not promise or threat

I personally never use the “carrot and stick” method. It does not work for me, so I do not use it on others. As a procurement professional keeping our word is of utmost importance. And promising salary increase, bonus or other perks that will get approved at a board meeting is simply not good enough for me. Same as the “Don’t bother coming tomorrow if this is not done” comment.

Mix good and bad

They call it the “sandwich technique”. Start with good feedback. Then give points where the team member requires improvement. Finish with good things. Well, what when this session is a final warning before the person will get fired if he doesn’t improve? I try to start with the most important points first. No matter if good or bad. And I do finish on a positive note. Even if the person is terminated, I try to assure him that he may be a better fit in another organization. That it is not all about him.

Make it a regular exercise

Giving feedback once or twice a year is not enough. Feedback should be a regular, structured activity. Every two weeks I have one-on-one sessions with everyone in my team. And I use it to give feedback about the last two weeks only. Then, during the mandatory semi-annual review, we go through the major points of the last 6 months and talk in general.

I will not give any extra sources on this topic. There are courses, books and entire semesters in schools around this. As always, this is how I practically do it. It works for me. Try it out. Adopt it for your character and team.

But remember. Always, always give feedback.

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