Timely Feedback is a Difference Maker

Feedback has a bad rap. We avoid it. Get defensive because of it. Dismiss it. Over-focus on minutiae. This is especially true in Christian ministry, where we will often avoid the more difficult aspects of feedback in favor of what we perceive as “peace.” At the end of the day, people want to know where they stand. In the absence of feedback, they will fill in the blanks. No news is NOT good news. 

Without some form of feedback it is hard to know if we hit the mark, if our contributions are acknowledged and noticed, or if there is room to grow. Good timely feedback, whether positive or constructive, will ignite potential.

Good, timely feedback ignites potential.

~Annie Perdue-Olson

What makes feedback good?

The best feedback is less of an event and more of a natural conversation. Formal feedback processes (i.e. performance reviews, project debriefs, goal check-ins) are anchoring points for sharing feedback. Without conversational, ongoing feedback, much of what is gained in these formal processes is lost in time.

What can I do to offer feedback well?

Act immediately. Feedback should be provided as soon as possible after the behavior was observed. If you can’t share it immediately, keep a feedback journal for your people. In 1:1 meetings or ad-hoc meetings share something you are noticing with that person. Mix in affirmation and acknowledgement, don’t over-focus on what could be better. 

What topics should I cover in giving feedback?

Address specific, observable behaviors instead of making broad labels. A label can make the concept more approachable so it’s simple enough to go after. However, labels can oversimplify so much that what is shared is not actionable thus making growth oriented feedback seem unattainable and positive feedback seem superficial.

Broad Label Specific, observable behaviors
Be more confident
in your ideas
Come to meetings ready to share your idea
with a clear plan on how to go after it
Nice job on that
Your presentation was succinct and your handouts
were eye catching and complemented your key

How can I make feedback easy, but still meaningful?

Feedback is easier to give and receive when it’s part of a natural conversation. Becoming a rhythm in the relationship that happens regularly. That doesn’t mean it just happens — it will take work. Intentionality. Planning. 

What should I do when feedback is critical?

Focus on one thing at a time. Stanford Professor Clifford Nass says that most people can take in only one critical comment at a time. Collect feedback frequently but focus on one thing at each session. It will force you to prioritize what is most important for their growth.


Feedback can be a complicated topic. What questions does this conversation inspire in you? Share a question or a thought in the comments below or email me at annie@leadingbettertogether.com and I will be sharing more in the coming blogs on both giving and receiving feedback.


Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

Leave a Comment