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Images of submitted responses during the Brain Trust exercise at Utah's Leadership Development Institute.
The Wisdom of Crowds: Effective Feedback
Want to be part of a thriving culture? Feedback is key. Director of ENT and dental clinics Kirk Hughs asked over 500 University of Utah Health leaders to share what makes feedback effective. Their top two? Timely and sincere feedback.

Thanks for the Feedback


think a lot about giving and receiving feedback. I lead three outpatient clinics, and I give and receive feedback with a lot of people – medical assistants, providers, patients, families, my peers, and let’s not forget my bosses. I’ve learned in my 14 years as a leader that feedback is the engine of engagement, performance, and ultimately, improvement.

While feedback is necessary, it’s not an easy thing. I fine-tune how I deliver feedback and the below qualities are the path to better feedback. When I have done it right, it has been incredibly rewarding for me and the employee.

At our recent Leader Development Institute (LDI), I asked the attendees to think about a time when they received effective feedback. Then I challenged them to identify five reasons that made it effective, and here is what they collectively said.

Utah Leadership Ranks It’s Top 12 - “What Makes Feedback Useful”

ldi feedback
66 responses from 98 teams (67% response rate; 550 attendees) were collected at the March 27, LDI meeting in SLC, UT.

More on the top four

  1. Be TIMELY in your feedback. Provide feedback immediately after an event (don’t want until an annual review to recognize a strength or coach an issue)
  2. SINCERE/HONEST. Melissa Horn said it best: “Everyone deserves the chance to receive honest and compassionate feedback about their performance.” Sincerity lets people know you care about them and that the work is important.
  3. Try being SPECIFIC as possible in your feedback. What exactly did the person do well? Researcher Christine Porath writes “The more specific you are, the better. The more you notice what’s meaningful to a person, the greater your potential impact will be.”

My two-cents

While timely was most frequent response, sincerity came in a close second. I think it is really interesting that sincerity ranked so high, and that four of the top five responses have to do with the “heart” of the person delivering feedback. There is a really great lesson in this for me about where my heart should be when giving feedback. What would my feedback sound like if it was more sincere, more genuine, more honest, and more respectful?


Kirk Hughs

Director, Outpatient Services ENT, University of Utah Health

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