Does everyone want feedback?

Just this week, I was working with some team leaders on a leader development programme and the topic was “Performance Management”. We started off with a great activity called the “Printers Box”, which beautifully demonstrates the principles of performance management in an engaging and memorable way.

As part of the session we explored how to encourage individuals to write their own success stories, to share at a review meeting, making the distinction between any “observations” that they make and any “interpretations”.

This led onto “speed coaching” – a great activity which demonstrates that coaching need not take up much time! As part of any line managers or team leaders toolkit, being able to coach and give great feedback are essential as well as knowing how to ask for feedback.

This led onto a discussion about “Do we treat our team members all the same?” and why it was important to know how often to give feedback. Some people know instinctively that they have done a good job (internally referenced) and therefore do not have that desire for constant feedback. Other people need feedback from others to know if they have done a good job (externally referenced) and may appear to want constant feedback.

The interesting thing is that if you get a line manager or team leader whose reference system is different to any of their team members, you may get a mis-match as to how much feedback to give them. So how do you square this?

Well firstly feedback is good, when given in the appropriate way and can serve to develop people in their skills as well as their emotional intelligence. So whether you are internally or externally referenced, it is good, firstly to check in with yourself if you think you have done a good job, but then see if this matches with what others think. This way you learn whether your views of yourself are accurate.

For a line manager who is internally referenced, they may not see the relevance of giving regular feedback and this may cause some members of the team, who are externally referenced to appear very “needy”. These managers need to learn how often and in what way their team members will best respond to feedback.

For a line manager who is externally referenced, they may shower their team with regular feedback which may not be appreciated by those in their team who are internally referenced. Feedback for these guys needs to be succinct, practical and not too often. Do not be tempted to skip feedback for these guys – they may not value it, but they need to learn to take it on board.

We also briefly looked at the skill-will diagram to further explore how often different team members may need coaching. All in all, a fruitful session!

If you would like to find out more about any of the exercises, I am happy to share my experiences, so contact me at:



2 thoughts on “Does everyone want feedback?

  1. melashworth says:

    Very interesting article. Hadn’t really thought about that consciously before

  2. Thanks Mel, having coached a large number of line managers a few years ago, it was something I observed was quite common, the mismatch and the lack of awareness of its effect.

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