Feedback and the X-Factor

In April, Annabel shared how her experience of restoring an old, WW2 Jeep  helped her learners understand the S.M.A.R.T. method of objective setting. We are delighted that she has now given us her thoughts on giving feedback.


I don’t know if you’ve watched any of the many shows where a panel of judges pass comment on the talents (or otherwise) of nervous, would be stars.

If you are a manager who gives feedback to your team you need to watch at least one show just to look at the judges and how the performers react to their feedback.

For example, on Britain’s Got Talent:

  • Amanda Holden nearly always finds a positive thing to say about everyone (even the people who are awful.)  Even if she doesn’t put them through to the next round she lets them down gently.
    The audience and performers love her supportive manner.
  • Piers Morgan seems to side with the majority vote and seldom has any strong views
    Again, the audience and performers love him – and by siding with the majority he gets support for unpopular decisions.
  • Simon Cowell is famous for speaking his mind and being brutally honest.
    He’s reduced people to tears but more importantly, his feedback has taken naturally talented people and upped their performance to a point where they sell millions of records.

If you watch the performers it’s his feedback that they value the most.  They politely sit through Amanda and Peers inevitable praise but hang on Simons every word.

They only start to believe their performance was good when they get positive feedback from Simon.

Whilst they may disagree with him when he points out areas for improvement they usually take his advice and make the changes he suggests.

So I’m not saying you need to be rude and make your team cry, but feedback is only valued when it’s honest, when it points out the areas for improvement as well as describing the things that make the individual great.

You won’t always be popular but your team will become better performers overall.


Annabel is a Training Advisor in UK Local Government and stumbled into training 15 years ago and has loved it ever since. She says:

Outside of work I restore old vehicles, play the guitar very badly and love life.  I often wonder what Simons feedback would be if I entered a talent competition but fear it would be more developmental than complimentary!


judge image by IXQUICK
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