How to Offer Honest Constructive Feedback

Feedback Wrap

Forget the compliment sandwich and try the Feedback Wrap! This Management 3.0 Practice addresses a challenge many of us are trying to overcome with our teams today: Giving actionable feedback, the kind that leads to positive, self-motivated action, not disgruntled teammates.

Man serving Feedback Wrap

Annual and quarterly performance appraisals are rather useless, out of context and are dreaded by both sides, like a student in a principal’s office. Just like we need alternatives to the old annual bonus system, we need to dramatically improve how we give employee feedback.

The feedback wrap is a part of an entire trust-only environment that is essential to the transparent future of work. The feedback wrap helps people focus on both personal improvement and systematic improvement.

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How to apply a Feedback Wrap

Follow these important rules of feedback:


#1 Describe your context:

Start by offering context to increase the other person’s understanding and appreciation of your situation.

“I’m writing you while I’m packing for my vacation. Sorry about the brevity of this message.”


#2 List your observations:

You then offer observations – without finger-pointing – of specific examples and instances.

“I checked out your event website and noticed there is a spelling error in my name on the keynote page.”




#3 Express your emotions:

You let the recipient know how you feel about the facts, creating awareness of the impact of the facts on you, without blaming anyone in particular.

“I felt a bit disappointed because I had spelled my name correctly in the materials I provided.”


#4 Sort by value:

You explain your needs, because the receiver just may not realize what is important to you.

“It is important to me that your attendees see my name spelled correctly; they might try to find more information about me.”




#5 End with suggestions:

You allow the person to figure out what needs to be done to close the gap between needs and facts, and you offer a suggestion or two to move things forward.

“I hope someone can fix the mistake, and I will be happy to check any other information for accurateness if you like.”


Martie Management 3.0

Learn more about giving and receiving feedback during a Management 3.0 Workshop, especially with the Better Feedback Module which is part of the Develop Competence View.


Since learning about Feedback Wraps, I have used it regularly with excellent results. What I’ve particularly found helpful is to draft my thoughts out in advance, and then deliver them in person. Not following the ‘Script’ so much, but improvising with a general idea of what I feel I need to say.

Andy Cleff, Agile Coach, Comcast

Feedback Wrap Tips

Try to combine the Feedback Wrap with another practice such as kudo cards or a happiness door.

Feedback is best served hot. If you are unable to meet with a person face-to-face (directly or remotely), it’s often better to write than to wait.

Feedback Wrap for remote teams

For remote teams communication and feedback is crucial. Some even say you can’t over-communicate while working remotely. The Feedback Wrap is a perfect match for the remote environment as it emphasizes the importance of putting things into context. Always give context when giving feedback.

Generally speaking, make sure to resolve conflicts early, especially when working remotely. Hop on a call, use your camera. Don’t let any conflict manifest. If there’s an issue on a remote team, it’s important to point out at the time, what the problem is, in a way that’s non accusatory but that let’s the person know how you feel. Try avoiding words like ‘you’, which make people automatically defensive and come from a place of ‘I’ speaking to how you’re feeling. The important point is to come from a genuine place of wanting to understand the other person while being open to their experiences. Don’t get into back and forth text messages, when doing this remotely it’s crucial that it be done face to face or at least on the phone.

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