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An Effective Way to Give Feedback

Jul 24, 2020 | Effective leaders, Employee engagement

There is a gap between understanding the importance of feedback and actually doing it. In this video Liz provides a simple but effective feeback model for leaders and teams.

We all understand the importance of giving feedback. It is vital for team effectiveness, leadership development and relationship management.

Yet many of my clients find it an extremely difficult thing to do and so it becomes uncomfortable and infrequent. In this blog post I want to share a model for giving feedback, one that will help you understand how to be more effective and deliberate about it. This model is called the ACE Feedback model and was first developed by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone in their fantastic book, Thanks for the Feedback.

A – appreciation

First of all the ‘A’ which stands for appreciation. This is motivational feedback that lets someone know that they are seen and that they matter. We all need to be told that we are appreciated every now and again. Appreciation needs to be sincere, specific, surprising and frequent. Don’t wait until the annual performance review to show your appreciation and don’t wait until you are asked to either. Research shows that appreciation is the one type of feedback that people want the most, but it is also the one type of feedback that people receive the least. Appreciation is as simple as saying, “I really appreciate how you took initiative this week, you saved me so much time. Thank you!”.

C – coaching

The second type of feedback is the ‘C’ for coaching. Coaching is anything that helps a person learn and get better. It includes advice, suggestions and it also includes corrections. Coaching is most effective when done real-time and without delay. And it is also best done by asking questions and avoiding assumptions before you’ve given the coachee a chance to give you their answers. The goal of any coaching is to let the person know that you believe in them. I like the way we give feedback at the Professional Speaking Association when we allow new members to give a ten minute presentation for our feedback. We say “here’s one thing you did well and here’s one thing you can do to make your talk even better”. It’s the choice of words…”one thing you can do to make it even better”.

E – evaluation

The final type of feedback is the ‘E’ for evaluation. Evaluation feedback lets a person know where they stand and its rating them against a set of pre-agreed criteria. It’s about aligning expectations and agreed standards. Evaluation is the most difficult type of feedback for a person to hear so it is vital that this is done at a different time to appreciation or coaching. Otherwise any appreciation or coaching you do while also giving evaluation feedback will be completely drowned out. All the person will focus on is the evaluation you are giving them. To be effective, evaluation feedback must be based on a previously clearly communicated win. And of critical importance to remember, there should be no surprises for the other person during the evaluation!

I’d like to leave you with a few questions to reflect on:

Who can I show appreciation to on my team in the next week?
Do I do any coaching? And is it real-time? What one thing can I do to get better at coaching my team members?
When people walk away from a performance review with me, do they know exactly how effective a job they are doing?

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