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How well do you give difficult feedback?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How well do you give difficult feedback?

  • Extremely — I have no problems doing so: 10.57%
  • Moderately — sometimes it’s hard but I get it done: 60.86%
  • Somewhat — I don’t always do a great job with it: 19.77%
  • Not very — I frequently struggle doing so: 7.63%
  • Not at all — I’m terrible at giving difficult feedback: 1.17%

Tough Feedback is Tough. It’s never easy to give difficult feedback.  People don’t like receiving it and we as leaders don’t enjoy sharing perceived “bad news.”  Try changing your thinking on delivering feedback.  It’s actually about delivering a tough message, which requires you to have a very specific mindset to deliver it well.  Accept that burden and step up to it.  If you’re more worried about being liked than you are improving performance, you’re doing a disservice to yourself, the organization, and your team member.  Be tactful, fact-based, and direct.  It will be over more quickly and everyone can then focus on improving performance.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of the  upcoming book “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and  “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”