Tag Archives: Corrective Feedback

The Two Faces of Feedback: Reinforcing & Corrective

Second in a 3-Part Series on Feedback

If feedback is “information that you believe will be helpful to another person,” why reserve feedback conversations for special occasions such as annual performance review or discipline? If you truly want to help another person there are several reasons to initiate a feedback conversation: to describe the impact another’s behavior is having on you; to discuss progress on achieving goals; to discuss performance; to give positive reinforcement; or simply to open a dialogue.

Regardless of the intent of your feedback conversation, there are two types: Reinforcing and Corrective.

Delivering Feedback

Although it is a fragile process, feedback is critical if people are going to grow and be successful. As the giver’s competence in delivering feedback and providing a feedback-friendly environment improves, the engagement, commitment, and productivity of the receiver increases dramatically. So how does a leader handle this delicate process? By using empathy, ongoing regard, and creating a feedback-friendly environment.

If feedback conversations are frequent, informal, and nonthreatening, then the feedback is more likely to be successful.


Reinforcing Feedback

Never underestimate the value of being valued. If you make ongoing regard part of your daily leadership practice you are ahead of the game. Much more than just praise, ongoing regard conversations are reinforcing, they support desired behaviors, and they elicit positive emotions. Theorists agree that there needs to be 5-7 more reinforcing conversations to every corrective conversation.

Steps for reinforcing feedback:
  1. State the behavior; be specific
  2. Focus on the person’s effort rather than capabilities
  3. State the positive impact it had on you
  4. State the positive impact it had on the team, organization, etc.
  5. Do this often (at least weekly)

Corrective Feedback

As a leader, be mindful of your intention when delivering corrective feedback. Adopt the mindset, “my mission is not to be right, my mission is to make a positive difference.” If you set the stage for trust by practicing empathy, testing assumptions, and deconstructive conversations when delivering corrective feedback, you will manage emotions, assuage fear, and temper the stress level of the conversation.

Steps for corrective feedback:
  1. State your intent in a positive way describing the reason for the conversation (see above)
  2. Emphasize mutual goals and shared values
  3. Share the information/data and state how it has affected you
  4. Practice empathy to temper stress
  5. Validate that you are both on the same page by testing assumptions
  6. Close by asking, “Is there anything I can do?”
  7. Deconstruct the conversation after stepping away

Questions to Deepen Thinking

What might happen if you deliver reinforcing feedback more frequently?
How might you deliver corrective feedback differently?
What are the consequences of not providing enough reinforcing feedback?


Batista, E. (2013, December). Building a feedback-rich culture.
Batista, E. (2015, February). Make getting feedback less stressful. Harvard Business Review.
Beatty, R. (2015). Feedback: Navigating for individual and organizational effectiveness. Talent Quarterly(5), 51-56.
Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005) Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion. Harvard Business School Press.
DiNisi, A. S. (2015). Does feedback really work? Talent Quarterly(5), 45-49.
Heen, S. &. (2015). Don’t blame HR if your performance evaluation system doesn’t work. Talent Quarterly(5), 21-24.
Rock, D. (2015). Time to rethink the concept of ‘feedback’. Talent Quarterly(5), 41-44.
Zenger, J. &. (2015). Feedback: The leadership conundrum. Talent Quarterly(5), 31-38.

Related Posts

Feedback: A Dirty Word?
Want Better Feedback Conversations? Educate the Receiver
Build Empathy into Your Interactions: Part 1 (of 3)
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 2: Climbing the Ladder of Inference
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 3: Deconstruct Your Conversations
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of your Thank You