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3 Ways Why Feedback Goes Wrong

Posted by Nicky Coffin

We have already established in the last article the benefits of the two key types of feedback.

All good, provided we have the following three aspects addressed.

  • Timing
  • Delivery
  • ….and their response


Let’s explore each in more depth:




“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “

Privacy Policy Consent*



Any form of feedback has the most impact if it is delivered as close as possible to the event. There is data that suggests within 15 minutes is the most powerful. In honesty that isn’t always practical and potentially not the best or most appropriate time, especially when it comes to developmental feedback.






Three other key factors need to be taken into account

  1. Privacy and environment

If you do want a message to land and be acted upon, make the communication in a private place. Giving someone developmental feedback on the billing floor is a definite no no. As is a hotel foyer taxi or other places with an open setting.

  1. Receptivity

Depending on the feedback; is the other person in the right state or mood to receive this feedback in such a way as to listen and act on it? Feedback of course needs to be given and sometimes it’s appropriate to wait for the right time.

  1. Impact and importance

Want great impact? Then make sure it is delivered as soon as possible to the event that has initiated the feedback.



We have already explored the privacy element. Now let’s look at the ‘way’ feedback is delivered.

Consider the individual in question remember their values and positive intention.

In our previous example Vanessa who was given developmental feedback, might be a new recruiter and new to learning how to sell and influence. She might not know how open and closed questions can work for her as a sales person.

Here is something else that is important.

Use I rather than the dreaded we word. Take ownership for e.g. “I heard you say XYZ”, alongside this base it on behaviours rather than judgements. Be specific and factual and give examples.

Always ask for suggestions from the individual and IMPORTANT make sure that they understand the feedback you are giving and what actions they need to take next.








This is often where managers have problems. They don’t know how to respond to the response they get as they deliver feedback to their consultants .

People tend to respond to feedback in five main ways below we have listed a typical response/reaction, why it might happen and how you could respond



“They said what?” “That can’t be true.” This often comes on the back of the initial shock of feedback.

A common reason why people reject feedback is when they perceive things differently from you. This often means that you have not received the message in the way you intended. This often happens when feedback is too general. E.g. “You need to improve your billing skills.”

Suggestion: Give more specific examples.



“How dare they!” “How can they possibly say that?” An emotional reaction can often occur as the message sinks in.

This often happens if the message is difficult to accept, even if they know it’s true. There is little point carrying on with the discussion until they are in a more resourceful and calm state.

Suggestion: Allow time or even defer the conversation till later.





“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “

Privacy Policy Consent*



“What actually happened was….”. People commonly attempt to reject feedback if they ‘think’ they have taken a reasonable course of action; even when it is at odds to what they should have done.

As an example you might have certain guidelines or KPIs. It is fine to acknowledge their point of view and then remind them of the agreed standards.

Suggestion: Refer back to your company standards



“You are right; what can I do differently? “. This is the response we are all looking for from a coachable recruiter.

Suggestion: Give them ideas on how to improve performance.


Recognise now where it might have gone wrong? The good news is you now know what to do instead.


If you want to learn how to set up your business, so that it stops under-performance once and for all, then join my free webinar:  The 5 Secrets Our Clients Use to Build 7 & 8 Figure Recruitment Businesses


Warm regards