Delivering Effective Feedback

We can do this the easy way or the hard way.

Most of the time, it’s done the hard way, resulting in unnecessary stress and poor results. (Just ask 90% of those who have survived a traditional “performance appraisal”.)

Logically, most of us may say we want to do the best job possible, but then resist feedback that could help us do so. We normally think we are doing well, but may react when told it could be better, if we perceive it as criticism. On the other hand, fair, objective, tactful advice is readily accepted.

The differences are trust, and circumstances. If we trust the person providing feedback, we are inclined to accept it, value it and act on it. Also, if it’s a learning situation (new job), it’s expected. For example,

  • If we believe the other person is genuinely helping and has our best interest at heart
  • If the feedback is delivered as coaching, support, advice, technical expertise, etc, not criticism
  • If we have a good working relationship and know the other person is focused on results
  • If we have asked for the feedback or advice
  • If it is expected-e.g. it has been discussed as part of a plan
  • If we know we need the advice (e.g. in a new job, or on a new task)
  • If it is clearly good advice, which we can use
  • If it is factual-we accept clear facts on performance easier than others “opinions”. If we can see an error we made, it’s a fact we accept easier than a comment e.g. “it could have been better”

Overcoming Traditional Barriers

Very few Leaders, Supervisors and Managers have training in building trust and providing feedback. Some are naturals who do it well. Hopefully you have worked with a few (and have a good role model).

Unfortunately, many “performance appraisals” or feedback sessions miss the boat , so most major Employers are seeking better, less negative ways to deliver coaching, feedback and learning. At the same time, Employees are asking for learning, growth and opportunities through fair, honest feedback.

You can do this by,

  • Setting clear job expectations and a plan to get there. This builds confidence for you both
  • Contracting with Crew Members on your needs, their needs, and support you can provide
  • Encouraging real communication and collaboration with them to get the job done
  • Holding Crew Members to account for effort and openness to listen

Feedback-Situation Analysis

Leaders, Supervisors and Managers need results. Crew Members want to be successful, (and asked back for future film projects).

In employment, however, there are recurring barriers & issues between Leaders & Followers in all industries, not just film.

Contributing challenges include,

  • Lack of clarity-as to what the job requires
  • Misunderstanding the purpose-some feel it’s criticism (coaching & mentoring is not criticism)
  • Unfamiliarity-the two parties may not know each other, and trust isn’t yet established
  • No contracting-the two parties haven’t discussed how to help each other
  • No process-no plan is made to meet and discuss feedback (it needn’t take hours)
  • Time pressures-film projects are busy, and less time is available to meet (innovative is needed)
  • Trust-as noted on Page 1, is an essential foundation

Positive factors

Positive comments from Crew with good Leaders include,

I know clearly what is expected and have support to do it

  • Feedback is clear, fair and objective
  • I receive coaching and encouragement, not criticism
  • I am held to account for high standards
  • I have access to my Crew Leader when needed
  • If I make a mistake, I have support to fix it
  • I can trust my Leader to support my success
  • I am listened to

Here’s something you have heard a few times before,

“It’s all about Communication!”

Also, the more we understand about a situation, the better we can manage it. So, the clearer Leaders communicate on tasks and results required, the easier it is for Crew Members to perform.

Clarity (of tasks) and, Contact (during the Project) are two key factors to establish and maintain excellent working relationships.

Steps to Successful Feedback

Clarity-of expectations                                       Contact-communication at work


  • Build Trust (and continue building it)
  • Be clear
  • Be honest, tactful and supportive
  • Hold others accountable

Clarity of Expectations

With Experienced Crew

  • Briefly discuss what you expect. They may have worked with you before, or, with others who may not have the same expectations or approach.
  • Discuss what they need from you, e.g. coaching, feedback or autonomy where possible
  • Negotiate the type of feedback you provide & see what they are open to (the best encourage it)

With Newcomers

  • Establish a great working relationship. “First impressions are lasting impressions”. This is your very best chance to set the tone with new Crew. Remember your first day. Did your Crew Leader help get you started?
  • Carefully walk through what your expect (Don’t laugh-checklists help if they are newcomers)
  • Give them permission to ask questions, but also explain when not to ask, when you are too busy
  • Help them by noting common mistakes made in their job, so they can avoid them
  • As if they want feedback to learn the job, then stress that the target is learning, and a focus on the job, so don’t take it personally


With Everyone

  • Stress accountability and a commitment to positive, professional standards
  • Stress delivering service & support to all other individuals/Departments for a successful project
  • Stress effective communication and collaboration
  • Ask to hear promptly about issues, problems and things to address
  • Encourage them to seek timely feedback (timely, clear examples have more impact)
  • Explain that, as time is limited, most discussions will be brief
  • Listen to them


Contact-During the Project

Film projects are busy, with little time for traditional feedback & coaching. We can “coach on the fly” to,

  • Recognize and affirm good performance & good work (A brief “Thanks” speaks volumes)
  • Clarify what we want, especially if it may be different that they expect
  • Coach if needed, to get them back on track. Be blunter if they haven’t listened
  • Keep the door open for input, clarifications or questions from them (A collaborative approach)
  • Target moments when you will have time to speak with them (e.g. early, upon arrival, on breaks, at down times, at days’ or weeks’ end, etc)
  • Encourage their questions to save you time

Successful Crew = Successful Crew Leader = Successful Project