by Paul Matthews

Tools for giving feedback


Feedback is a gift, and the better you give it, the greater the gift.

Giving feedback is an art, but the good news is that it is an art that anyone can learn. There are some simple models and tools that will get you started, and help you get rid of any current bad feedback habits, after which you can develop your own style, your own ‘art’.


A goal is not necessarily a tool for feedback, but it is an essential precursor. Feedback needs to be based on an evaluation against an established standard or set of expectations.

Common sense really, but people often give feedback based on their own standards without first asking themselves if these standards are understood by the other person. A discussion about standards of behaviour and performance might well be the first step. See the topic on Performance Management (People).

Another aspect to goals is to consider your own outcome in giving feedback. What are you setting out to achieve? This may have a considerable bearing on how you actually give the feedback.

Immediate feedback

We very often want to give feedback right in the moment, and this timeliness can also greatly improve the effectiveness of feedback. Problems can arise, however, when we just unthinkingly react.

In order to get your thoughts in order so that immediate feedback is more considered, use the STOP tool.

Planned feedback

When you plan to give feedback in a more structured and planned way, there is a very simple eight-step process you can follow that will help things run more smoothly:

  1. State the purpose of the meeting
  2. Describe what you have observed
  3. Describe the consequences or positive outcomes of the continued behaviour
  4. Describe how you feel about this
  5. Listen to the other person’s perspective and ask as many questions as you need to understand it
  6. Help them to decide on specific actions
  7. Summarise the conversation
  8. Follow up.

As this will require some planning, you could add a Step 0 for Planning.

When giving planned feedback, there are a number of other factors that you need to consider, which are summarised by the acronym BOOST.

This is really just a shorthand way of summarising the Important principles of giving feedback.