17 Things to Never do when Giving Corrective Feedback

The bad things you do erase the good things you’ve done.

Yesterday, at the end of a training session, I asked a group to list things you should never do when giving feedback.

Sometimes the next level of success is achieved when you stop shooting yourself in the foot.


It's impossible to improve apart from feedback.

17 things to never do when giving corrective feedback:

#1. Never lie.

#2. Never compare with others.

#3. Never over-commit.

#4. Never let someone over-commit.

#5. Never attack the person.

#6. Never give corrective feedback in public.

#7. Never address more than one concern.

#8. Never discourage.

#9. Never belittle or patronize.

#10. Never be vague.

Don’t say anything if you’re going to be vague.

#11. Never give constructive feedback without examples.

#12. Never be all negative.

#13. Never be unkind.

#14. Never give corrective feedback when you’re emotional.

#15. Never lose focus.

Wandering conversations are a train wreck waiting to happen. You might make excuses for poor performance if you lose focus, for example.

If you run around like a squirrel on steroids, make notes to keep on track.

  1. Declare the concern.
  2. Give an example.
  3. Address corrective measures.
  4. Set a follow-up meeting to track progress and adapt strategies.

#16. Never withhold corrective feedback until the end of a conversation.

#17. Never delay.

If you wait 3 months to give corrective feedback, the issue isn’t worth addressing.

Deal with negative behaviors before they become negative habits.

You didn’t serve your team member well if they say, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

Why feedback is essential:

It’s impossible to improve apart from feedback.

Imagine a basketball player trying to improve her foul shooting percentage. Suppose she shoots, but a screen blocks her vision. She never sees where the ball goes.

Effort apart from feedback is wasted. You never improve until you see the results of your efforts.

What should leaders never do when giving corrective feedback?

What should leaders always do when giving corrective feedback?

Bonus material:

Giving Feedback – Don’t Make These Mistakes (Quick Base)

6 Mistakes to Avoid when Giving and Receiving Feedback (Startup Institute)

The Feedback Fallacy (HBR)