Giving vague feedback or feedback you can't support with data or examples.
If all you can offer is generalities, not specifics:
- You will seem empty or insincere. Saying "good job" but not supporting it with details makes it seem as if you don't know what was done or why it was valuable.
- You increase the likelihood that people will become defensive.
- You can be seen as asking for too much, especially when you suggest improvements even though the person or group is generally doing well.
Saying someone did something well when you don't believe it.
If you provide positive feedback that you don't believe:
- You'll seem insincere or, worse, dishonest.
- The person or group might think you're manipulating them.
- The person or group might wonder about your real motives for providing the feedback.
- Your credibility will suffer.
Guessing at motives.
If your feedback is based on assumptions or guesses, you:
- Might weaken it and give people the impression you're making excuses for them.
- Will sound as if you don't believe what you're saying.
- Don't give enough specific information about what needs to be done differently.
Using words like always and never.
If you use these words in your feedback:
- You'll sound like you're describing a long-standing performance trend.
- The person or group might get angry with you for not providing the feedback sooner.
- The person or group will think their general performance, not just performance in this situation, is unacceptable.
- People will become demoralized.
Getting defensive or resisting developmental feedback.
If this happens:
- The person providing feedback might feel as if you don't value or trust his or her ideas.
- You might appear closed-minded, guilty, or not accountable for your actions.
- The person will be reluctant to provide you with feedback in the future.
Waiting too long to give developmental feedback.
If too much time passes, the person or group might become:
- Embarrassed that other people saw that there was a problem while they didn't.
- Angry because it's too late to do anything about it.
- Insulted that you even brought it up. After all, if it was so important, why didn't you say something when it happened?
- Resistant to this surprise feedback and unwilling to accept it.
- Frustrated because it will be difficult to remember and discuss the specific details of the situation.
Giving only developmental feedback.
If you don't balance developmental feedback with positive feedback, the person or group might:
- Resent it.
- Begin to doubt their abilities.
- Become frustrated and demoralized.
- Feel as if they can't do anything right.
- Be afraid of making more mistakes.
Giving only positive feedback.
If you don't balance positive feedback with developmental feedback, the person or group might:
- Miss opportunities to become even better.
- Think you're being dishonest.
- Become overconfident and, as a result, make mistakes.