Feedback - Anti-patterns

Giving developmental feedback is difficult and requires long practice.

In his article on Negative feedback anti-patterns, Charles Axel-Dein, gives a list of anti-patterns that a manager should unlearn:

  1. The "Untargeted feedback" antipattern

    In this antipattern, the manager does not direct the feedback to a specific employee and instead directs the feedback to the entire team. For example, "Our team could have been better...."

  2. The "Things you can't impact anyway" antipattern

    Another common antipattern is to talk about things that the feedback receiver has no impact on. For example, when a manager already sings off on a presentation and says "you have done the presentation well but could have added a slide on..."

    This feedback is totally pointless if the feedback receiver has no impact on prioritization

  3. The "I'll only talk about things you didn't do" antipattern

    It can be tempting to make the appreciative feedback very insightful and specific, and to keep the developmental feedback evasive (human beings tend to not like giving developmental feedback)

  4. The "Let's not be specific" antipattern

    A feedback like "You sometimes tend to cut corner and sacrifice quality over speed." is not very constructive. A manager should always start with an example and make sure it is linked very concretely to one of the receiver's action.

  5. The "As but no Ds" antipattern

    As a thumb rule, a manger should give both appreciative and developmental feedback. Giving only appreciative feedback and evading developmental feedback does not help the receiver grow.

  6. The "Feedback sandwich" antipattern

    The idea behind the feedback sandwich is to soften the blow by putting the piece of developmental feedback between two appreciative ones.

    It's an antipattern because it makes the overall point much weaker, and as a result, will decrease its effectiveness with the receiver.

    Manager's feedback should much more direct and focused.

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