2. Feedback Overview

The process of giving and receiving feedback is a very new one for many people who aren’t originally from Canada. In this section, we will provide an overview of feedback and introduce you to the feedback scenario we will discuss throughout this course. 

Feedback Overview

As a brief introduction, here are a few points about what feedback is and is not.

Feedback is:

  • based on on-the-spot observations
  • a way to inform and teach
  • a tool to improve performance—something that can help you learn more about your workplace practice and get better at your job
  • something that you have to be willing and open to receive

Feedback is not:

  • an evaluation
  • a judgment
  • something personal—it is about job performance

In the following video, you will be introduced to the scenario used in this course and begin to explore the importance of effective feedback.

(To read along click here.)

Feedback vs. Evaluation

Giving feedback is not the same as providing an evaluation. Feedback informs and teaches. It is a critical part of an individual’s learning and development journey and allows goals to be reached. Good feedback avoids any sense of judgement, whereas evaluation takes place at the end of a journey, assessing whether a goal was reached, and offering judgement.

Feedback: Barriers to Overcome

Dr. Jack Ende—a doctor and Professor of Medicine—wrote a groundbreaking article in 1983 called ‘Feedback in Clinical Medical Education’. He writes that feedback can be less effective when it’s not provided by the person directly observing an individual: “Observations are the currency of feedback.”1 However, think about the perspective of the person providing feedback. Many managers fear that feedback will have more negative effects than positive, and damage the relationship. This can happen when emotions get stirred up because feedback was personal or wasn’t provided skillfully.

Sometimes feedback doesn’t work because the individual receiving it is not open to listening and accepting it. In this case, a manager may be worried about the individual’s reaction, and therefore talk around the issue instead of addressing it directly. As a result, the individual isn’t able to learn from the feedback. Even though most employees want to receive feedback, some individuals may be afraid of getting negative feedback or a negative evaluation, and this attitude could reinforce the manager’s avoidance. In cases like this, feedback is not discussed effectively, and unfortunately no one is able to benefit from it. Without effective feedback, mistakes go uncorrected and good performance is unrecognized.

The feedback process may be new and unfamiliar to many people. Use the following exercise to reflect on how comfortable you are with feedback.

In the next lesson, you will see a feedback session between Amisi, an internationally-educated nurse, and Joan, a nurse manager.


1Ende, Jack. ‘Feedback in Clinical Medical Education.’ JAMA Aug 12 1983—Vol 250, No.6 pp.777-781.

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