The 5 Reasons why Managers avoid giving Feedback

When you’re looking to grow a scale-ready business there are two essential foundations that you need to build: simple logical and repeatable systems in every area of your operation, and a high performing team who take ownership for their role and run your systems effectively.

Building that high-performing team relies on the effective training and development of every individual in it, and the corner stone of that training and development, is feedback. 

Just as regular watering will turn our dry and yellowing lawn to its former green glory so daily, constructive feedback will inspire and enable our team to blossom and shine.

Sadly, and I think it’s fair to say this, as a nation we British aren’t always great at giving feedback and as a result we often don’t get the outcomes we’re looking for.

  • We use sarcasm which can go straight over the head of the person we’re talking to
  • We use humour, which can downplay the important point we’re trying to make
  • We avoid giving any feedback at all for fear of the emotional reaction we might be faced with

All of which means that a poor situation or poor performance won’t improve, and good performance doesn’t get the praise and recognition it deserves.

I’m a big believer that the purpose of feedback is to inspire, motivate and enable someone to improve their performance. Feedback should never leave somebody feeling down or hopeless or resentful; it should always be focused on the desired end result – an improved performance.

Why managers fear giving feedback.

  1. They’re not taught how to give feedback, so they don’t have a strategy for doing it well
  2. They don’t give feedback often enough, so they have to build up to every feedback conversation
  3. They believe that it’s demotivating to give feedback when the team, or an individual is working really hard, is under pressure, or maybe even has challenges at home
  4. They fear the reaction – what if they get angry? What if they get emotional? How will I deal with their response?
  5. They believe that they can’t give feedback to people who used to be their peers, because they’ll come across as bossy or on a power trip.

Any of those ring a bell?

If so, it’s important to remember why you were chosen to be a manager, and the responsibility that comes with being a manager:

 – to improve performance

– to develop your team

– to help individuals to reach their true potential

Which coincidentally, are the three main reasons for giving feedback. So let’s tackle the main reason for this fear

First of all, let’s look at the four types of feedback.

1.No feedback

The most commonly used feedback type is giving no feedback at all. Every day in every business, managers are walking past problems in their team, ignoring poor standards, not commenting on things that are being done well. 

This is by far the worst type of feedback because it shows a lack of care and leads not only to a deterioration of standards, but also to the team disengaging. ‘If you don’t care, why should we?’

2. Negative feedback

Negative feedback is where you launch into somebody, tell them everything that they’ve done wrong but don’t actually share with them how to put it right – usually doing it very loudly, quite aggressively, and most often in front of the rest of the team. 

Any improvement as a result of negative feedback is rarely long lasting. In fact, the most likely outcome is a long lasting negative feeling towards you. 

If you’re looking for confrontation, negative feedback – or pure criticism as we should rightly call it – is the way to get it.

3. Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is where you tell somebody what they haven’t done to standard, and then, crucially, you tell them what they need to do to put it right, how they need to improve their performance, what they need to do differently. It’s fully focused on achieving a positive outcome – the improvement of your team member’s performance.

4. Appreciative feedback

Appreciative feedback is where you tell somebody what a great job they’ve done, picking up on the specifics of what made it such a good job, so that they can continue to achieve this standard going forward.

The Learning Environment

When you are learning something new, you expect to be given feedback. Whether you are learning to drive, or cook, whatever the new skill might be, you expect to be told what you’re doing wrong, and how to do it right. 

You recognise that feedback is crucial to your development. You know that if you want to master your new skill, you need to listen and respond to the feedback that you’re being given.

This expectation of training and feedback is known as a learning environment, and it’s an environment that you want to create within your team. 

Just like you when you learned to drive or bake you want everyone in your team to expect to be given effective training, and feedback that ensures that they keep learning and developing their skill.

When you have created a learning environment, day to day feedback becomes the norm, so there’s no fear of it, whether you’re the giver or the receiver.

Make day to day feedback the norm in your business.

Next week I’ll give you my top tips on how to give feedback and when to give it to get the best result.

Do one thing: be aware of your interaction with your team this week. Have you seized opportunities for feedback or avoided them? If you’ve avoided them think about why. And then come back next week for my tried and trusted strategy for giving confident and constructive feedback every time.

NB Team Development is step 4 of a 9 step roadmap that we lead our clients along, to build the business-critical systems that will make your business scale-ready, and free you from the day to day of your operation. Visit:



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Marianne Page

Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)


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