4 Bad Reasons Not to Give Employee Feedback

By Timothy I. Thomas

Tim Thomas

Timothy I. Thomas is the President and CEO of Makarios Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and business consulting firm. Makarios Consulting specializes in interactive training and one-on-one coaching in progressive organizations in order to equip and empower their leaders to maximize their own leadership skills and inspire others to accomplish extraordinary business results. Timothy Thomas is the author of Creating All-Star Performers: The Power of Effective Feedback, now available for immediate download at

Feedback is perhaps the single most powerful tool a leader has at his or her disposal to bring about significant improvement in levels of employee engagement and performance. Ken Blanchard wisely noted that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

The positive outcomes of giving effective feedback are astonishing and oftentimes bring about company-wide improvements. Effective feedback can increase productivity and sales, decrease conflict, streamline business processes, uncover training needs, and improve problem-solving abilities. And that is just the beginning.

If feedback can do all that for us, why don’t more leaders use it? Here are the top four reasons I have discovered in my work with companies of all sizes. Do any apply to you?

Reason #1: “Why should I?”

The first reason, “Why should I?” is most often given when we are talking about reinforcing feedback: that is, feedback that recognizes a job well done, and seeks to encourage repeat behavior.

In this case, leaders have often told me, “I’m paying these people to work! Why should I have to tell them they’re doing a good job all the time?”

My response to this “old-school” philosophy is this: imagine you’re in the stadium watching your favorite team and they score. What do you do? You yell and cheer and wave your arms … along with thousands of other people! Well, why are you doing that? Members of that team are also being paid (often paid outrageous sums of money!). Why are you cheering them? They’re just doing their job!

But you do cheer them – time and again. Why? Because you are giving them positive, reinforcing feedback. You want them to know you are behind them, supporting them, rooting for them. Your employees have the same needs!

Reason #2: “I don’t like confrontation.”

Reinforcing feedback is one of two types of feedback – the other is re-directing feedback. Re-directing feedback is feedback that seeks to change negative behavior or performance.

Re-directing feedback situations are often considered a battlefield, with the combatants armed to the teeth. When you enter into a feedback session with that mindset, it’s no wonder you’re on the defensive, with your adrenaline running high.

It’s vital to remove that image from your mind: feedback is not a fight. It is a collaboration in every sense of the word. You aren’t looking to defeat an enemy; you want to forge a solid and positive relationship and help your employee to grow and improve their performance. The giving of feedback, even difficult, re-directing feedback, is a gift for the recipient.

Reason #3: “I don’t know how.”

Ignorance is never bliss. In fact, it’s a prison. Giving effective feedback isn’t instinctive: people don’t know how to do it naturally. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know to give powerful feedback that can transform your business.

Reason #4: “If I wait long enough, maybe the problem will go away.”

Trust me – it won’t. There’s only one solution: start giving effective employee feedback, today!
© 2008 Timothy I. Thomas
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