How to give feedback to a teammate

how to give feedback drawing

What do you do if a teammate doesn’t deliver on their promise? How are you supposed to let your teammate know about their performance? That’s where feedback comes in. Instead of ignoring feedback, you want to offer your advice so that you improve your working relationship with your teammate.

As crazy as it sounds, giving feedback isn’t as difficult as you think. You don’t have to hurt the other person’s feelings if you’re coming from a good place and want to help. You also don’t want to come off like you’re better than the other person.

What is feedback?

Feedback is the practice of working out your confusion of something with someone, and discovering what is true.

For example, “I expected to have this delivered to the customer by Tuesday. But it wasn’t delivered until Friday, and I’m not sure why.”

How to get in sync with the other person

First, you want to get in sync with the other person by letting them know what you think “good” looks like. You do this by letting the other person know what you expected would happen: “I expected that…”

Then, you want to talk about your experience, and how it differed from what you expected: “What I experienced was that  the project wasn’t delivered on time, or I was confused about why we delayed delivery to the customer.”

Your goal is to give transparency about your confusion. Then, you want to learn what the person experienced by offering them the chance to explain themselves.

For example, the person might say, “I delivered it late to the customer because I had other projects on my plate and the customer was lenient on delivery, so I deprioritized the project.”

Finally, you look at the difference between the standard that you’ve agreed upon (what good looks like) and what actually happened. The gap between the two is performance. This is the feedback that you’re trying to deliver. Your making sense of the standard for the other person and you’re getting in sync with reality. You’re pointing out the performance gap while not accusing the person. Remember, this is an effort for you both to get in sync with what happened.

Why this works

You’re figuring out why the unexpected outcome happened from your viewpoint and the other person’s viewpoint.

When you do it, you’re being transparent and explicit about what the person needs to know.

You’re being open minded about what you could be missing from their perspective and showing empathy by wanting to understand. This is to say that you’re conducting feedback in a way that the other person feels listened to. 

So the next time you want to give feedback, think about what you and the other person agreed upon (what you expected to be delivered). Then identify how your experience of what was delivered was different from what was expected. And, finally, try to understand why there was a gap between what was expected and what you experienced.

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