Giving Feedback Virtually

Do you ever give feedback virtually?

Do you give your suppliers, your clients and your co-workers effective feedback – both positive and constructive (negative)? Giving good, timely, constructive and actionable feedback is something that most of us have to put a lot of effort into. Do we praise theVTchecklists right things? When we give constructive feedback, do we make positive suggestions? Do we always remember to address the issue, not the person?

Giving feedback well is not easy. But, giving feedback well in a business world that is becoming increasingly virtual can be a real challenge. When we add a few of the complexities that come from interacting virtually, we have an even harder job. Some of these challenges include timing, reading reactions, specificity and tone. When giving feedback virtually, for example via email, here are a few suggestions and tips below to help you do a better job.

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5 Tips for giving feedback virtually

1.  Make sure that the timing is appropriate – especially if your feedback is negative. Think about raising a child or a pet; you don’t tell them they did something wrong three days later!

2.  Make sure that the reader understands immediately what the email is about:

  • Use a subject line like: “Feedback on your proposal”
  • Tell them in the first sentence why you are emailing: “I’m writing to you with some feedback regarding the proposal you sent me on January 4.”
  • Tell them what feedback is included: “I have some feedback regarding the pricing and the payment process.”

3.  Break your feedback up. If you told them you had feedback about the pricing and the payment process, these should be two completely separate paragraphs. Give them headings if you wish.

4.  Try to be specific and give justification. For example:

  • “We liked your proposal. Especially the second page where you mentioned that the training would focus on our corporate values. This really fits to our company philosophy.”
  • “Unfortunately, we cannot agree to point 3 in section 2, relating to the payment options. This is not in accordance with our compliance policy.”

5.  When rejecting a suggestion, try to make a counter suggestion. For example:

  • “We cannot agree to point 3 in section 2. However, we could agree if the payment period was extended to 60 days.”
  • “I do not like the way you formatted the report. Next time, try to base it on the attached example or come and see me to discuss my expectations in more detail.”

Of course, there are many other things which can help to make giving feedback virtually more effective. Please feel free to add your extra ideas in the comments section below. Also, make sure to check out our seminar on Working Effectively in Virtual Teams to help improve your virtual team’s performance.



1 reply
  1. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Dear Nathan,
    This is a great post with lots of good ideas. Many people find it very difficult to give feedback to others, so having useful phrases and strategies about how to present the information is very useful. Giving feedback is difficult to do in your own language. Doing it in a foreign language and not sitting in the same room as the other person makes it even more challenging. Some of my participants have already found this entry to be very helpful, so thanks for sharing!

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