5 Best Practices for Giving Feedback in Coaching Sessions

Effective coaching is pivotal in driving employee performance and fostering a positive work environment. However, many managers often stumble during coaching sessions when giving feedback, resorting to ineffective methods that hinder growth and morale.

In this article, we will explore the significance of providing high-quality feedback and offer actionable best practices for coaching employees. By following these guidelines, you can create a culture of continuous improvement and maximize your team’s potential.

The Consequences of Giving Poor Feedback

Before diving into the coaching best practices, it’s essential to understand the consequences of poor employee feedback. When managers provide vague or destructive feedback, employees may become demotivated, disengaged, and uncertain about their performance. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased turnover, and a toxic work environment.


On the flip side, when managers offer constructive and actionable feedback, it not only boosts morale but also propels individuals and teams towards achieving their full potential.

The “Sandwich” Feedback Method

One commonly used approach to giving employee feedback during coaching is the “Sandwich” method. This method involves sandwiching constructive criticism with positive feedback. While it can be effective, it’s crucial to use it judiciously. The key is to ensure that the positive feedback is genuine and specific, not merely a buffer to soften the blow of criticism. By acknowledging an employee’s strengths before addressing areas for improvement, you create an environment of trust and receptivity.

Being Specific and Actionable with Feedback

Effective employee feedback during coaching is precise and actionable. Avoid vague statements like “you need to improve your communication skills” and opt for specific observations such as “During the team meeting yesterday when you presented your ideas, it would have been more effective if you had provided concrete examples to illustrate your points.” Specific feedback helps employees understand precisely what needs improvement and how to make those improvements.


Focusing Feedback on Behavior, Not the Person

It’s crucial to differentiate between employee feedback that critiques an individual’s behavior and criticizing the person themselves during coaching. Feedback should always be directed at actions and outcomes, not personal attributes. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re lazy,” you should say, “I noticed that you missed the deadline for the project. Can we discuss what challenges you faced and how we can prevent it from happening again?” This shift in focus promotes a growth mindset and encourages employees to view feedback as an opportunity for improvement rather than a personal attack.

Timing and Regularity of Feedback

Employee feedback during coaching is most effective when it is timely. Providing feedback immediately after an event or behavior occurs allows for a clearer connection between the action and the feedback. However, regular feedback sessions should also be scheduled to ensure consistent growth and development. Consider conducting regular one-on-one coaching sessions where you can discuss progress, goals, and areas for improvement.

Following Up and Following Through After Feedback

To demonstrate your commitment to an employee’s development, it’s essential to follow up and follow through on feedback after the coaching session. Ensure that you revisit previous discussions and acknowledge improvements or discuss any setbacks. By providing ongoing support and guidance, you create an atmosphere of accountability and continuous learning.


Coaching employees and delivering actionable feedback are vital skills for any manager or leader. When feedback is provided effectively, it can significantly enhance performance, boost morale, and drive organizational success. By embracing the “Sandwich” feedback method, being specific and actionable, focusing on behavior, not the person, prioritizing timing and regularity, and following up consistently, you can create a culture of continuous improvement that empowers your team to thrive.

Incorporate these best practices into your coaching sessions, and you’ll not only elevate your coaching skills but also enhance your team’s performance with actionable feedback.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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