I've been asked to write feedback for one of my colleagues. While most of it is positive, I do have some points I want to make regarding his professionalism which I feel he could benefit from (given this is only his first year after university).

The problem is, more than concrete 'incorrect' behaviours, my impression of his unprofessionalism comes from a number of minor moments when I found myself cringing at something he did. Some examples include him stepping in a conversation when the meeting chair was talking with our client or forgetting for the n-th time what work he should report on in a daily stand-up even though he could have brought in some notes (and being relaxed and joking about it - think "Ha ha seems like I've forgotten the bug number again!").

I feel silly bringing any of those up as they not only seem minor but also not-concrete and quite subjective. Furthermore, this being in the UK, in no social occasion would minor transgressions be pointed out directly (people tend to just ignore them here or give very vague hints something is wrong). Being reasonably new to office life (one year in) I have no idea if this should be any different in professional life.

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    I agree with Joe - not being prepared for stand-ups on multiple occasions is a concrete example of unprofessional behaviour which impacts you and your team, and which can and should be corrected. However, interrupting the meeting chair is something that the meeting chair should have addressed themselves directly after the meeting ended or through this person's line management.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 22:12

4 Answers 4


If you've been asked to write some feedback then do so. Make a note of these behaviours, but be sure to include positive attributes as well.

You are right, us Brits don't tend to call each other on our behaviour. We tut, scowl and move on. That said, sometimes you need to, and it sounds like your manager is asking for a complete picture to avoid causing unnecessary stress.

So, note down the positives, highlight the negatives, thank your boss for asking you to participate. It's possible (or probable) that someone will be doing the same analysis of you.


Don't give criticism if you can't/won't give concrete examples for the co-worker to work on. It's not fair to the recipient to give vague negative feedback. If you don't feel those items are worth mentioning, then you should reconsider giving that negative feedback.


Absolutely if all you have are minor points of correction they should be listed. This is beneficial on a couple of levels. First if this person doesn't realize their faux pas they are likely to continue doing them. Frankly pointing them out (not matter how un-British that may be), is providing them with valuable feedback. Second is that feedback without any negative points is dubious. The receiver can't know if there are things that aren't being mentioned (as it is in this case) or if they are doing perfectly. Feedback should give them guidance on where to focus their efforts in developing professionally.


Generally speaking, it's not appropriate to suggest a change when you have no clear examples. Telling somebody s/he needs to improve, but not telling him/her how that could happen is frustrating for the other person and completely non-constructive.

Just imagine in school people had graded you without actually pointing out your mistakes. I would accept that if I got an A, but I would certainly think it's a stupid system as soon as I got a B without any clue what's wrong.

If it's minor things, take your coworker aside and tell them. Or collect them and tell them later. But if you don't have constructive feedback that the person can act on... just don't.

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