Focus: How can I drive strategic results in my unit or department?

Give Regular, Constructive Feedback

Regular, constructive feedback is an important component of effective leadership and generating results. The objective of feedback is to help a learner improve. Feedback is information on what a learner did. This is different than an evaluation, where a learner is ranked, or graded. 1

Quick Tips:

  • Conduct feedback sessions in a private, relaxed, and supportive atmosphere.
  • Ensure that comments are information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations.
  • Focus on a specific behavior (what the learner did, vs. who he or she is).1
  • Direct feedback toward behavior the learner controls.
  • Provide feedback as soon after the behavior as possible.
  • Give positive comments first.
  • Limit the amount of information to what the student can use.
  • Make sure you are being understood.
  • Allow the learner to discuss his or her experience/performance first. Be a good listener. Compare your assessment with the student’s and discuss.
  • Link feedback to the learner’s goals.
  • Summarize the essential points of the discussion and establish a follow-up plan to address the learner’s needs.

The Anatomy of a Feedback Session

 The anatomy of a feedback session is presented from the "teacher's" perspective. The teacher is often the supervisor, manager or senior person involved in the session. Giving and receiving feedback is a critical leadership skills that can be learned and practiced.

Click to view a larger version of the feedback session. 


Feedback Model: Ask-Tell-Ask Model

Sometimes referred to as the new sandwich model, the Ask-Tell-Ask model uses self-reflection and assesses a learner’s level of insight.1, 2 Here are some ways to use this model to provide feedback to a learner.

Quick Tips: 1, 3

1. Ask the learner for his or her assessment of how a procedure or patient visit went. Was it successful? What was hard? Any areas for improvement?

2. Tell the learner your perspective of what he or she has shared. What about his or her assessment do you agree or disagree with? Is there something you want to mention that the learner did not include in his or her assessment?

3. Ask for suggestions on how he or she can improve in this area. Inquire as to how you as a preceptor can assist. Have the learner decide if he or she needs more explanation or would benefit more from practice or a demonstration.


1  Jeanette Guerrasio, MD; University of Colorado – Denver; Jeffrey Glasheen, MD; University of Colorado – Denver; 2011.

2  New York Presbyterian Hospital Graduate Medical Education, Core Education Committee; March 2012.

3  Ann Hiott Barham, MD; John L. Turner, MD; Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC April 26, 2010.