“Either you made a mistake or you don’t know what you’re doing. Which one is it?” One of my friends found himself on the receiving end of this question during a monthly financial meeting with the CEO, his boss, his colleagues and some of his direct reports.

How do you think he felt after this incident?

As you know, by now, properly delivered feedback is a great way to help keep your workforce motivated. In addition to what you say while giving feedback, how you choose to deliver feedback is also important.

Constructive Feedback

If it’s constructive feedback, where you want the individual to make a change, this should be delivered in private. One-on-one is typically best, but if someone else needs to be there, keep it to the minimum number of people required.

Consider my friend’s situation. There is just so much about this situation that could have been handled in a more effective way, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day. The important thing here is that this should have been done in private.

Positive Feedback

If it is appropriate for your work environment and it makes sense for the specific employee, public positive feedback can create even more value.

If you are giving praise one-on-one, stop by the employee’s workspace or meet with them in your office, and offer positive feedback separately from other business activities. Don’t use this meeting as a chance to discuss anything else, just make it about the employee’s good work.

As you give positive feedback, you can also link their good work to how it benefits the team and the company.

Let them know how much you personally appreciate their good work.

Being part of something bigger than themselves is a huge driver for many people, so be sure to let them know just how far their good work reaches.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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