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2.2: Active Listening and Feedback – Key Skills for New Managers

2.2: Active Listening and Feedback – Key Skills for New Managers

Learn how to become an effective listener and provide constructive feedback to lead your team to success.


As a new manager, you’re stepping into a challenging role that requires a unique set of skills. Among them, active listening and providing feedback are paramount. This chapter aims to help you develop these essential skills, enabling you to foster open communication, build trust with your team, and enhance overall team performance.

2.1 Active Listening: The Foundation of Effective Leadership

Active listening is the art of fully engaging with others, understanding their perspectives, and acknowledging their feelings. As a new manager, mastering this skill is crucial in creating a positive and productive work environment. Here are some key strategies to become a better active listener:

Create a Supportive Environment

  • Allow team members to express their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment.
  • Use open body language and maintain eye contact to convey interest and respect.
  • Show empathy by acknowledging emotions and validating feelings.

Pay Full Attention

  • Avoid distractions and be fully present during conversations.
  • Listen not just to the words spoken but also to the tone and nonverbal cues.
  • Avoid interrupting and let others finish their thoughts before responding.

Clarify and Summarize

  • Paraphrase and repeat key points to ensure you understand correctly.
  • Ask clarifying questions to gain deeper insights into the speaker’s perspective.
  • Summarize the conversation periodically to demonstrate your understanding.

Be Patient and Non-Judgmental

  • Give others time to express themselves fully, even if it takes time.
  • Suspend judgment and refrain from forming opinions prematurely.
  • Be open to differing viewpoints and embrace diverse perspectives.

By becoming an active listener, you will build stronger connections with your team and gain valuable insights that can inform your leadership decisions.

2.2 Providing Effective Feedback: Constructive Criticism for Growth

Feedback is an integral part of team development and individual growth. As a new manager, delivering feedback effectively can motivate your team, enhance performance, and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement. Here’s how to provide constructive feedback:

Be Specific and Timely

  • Address issues promptly after observing them, providing timely feedback.
  • Clearly articulate the behavior or action you want to address, avoiding generalizations.
  • Use concrete examples to illustrate your points and make the feedback more tangible.

Use the SBI Model

  • Situation: Describe the specific situation or behavior you observed.
  • Behavior: Explain the impact of the behavior on the team or the project.
  • Impact: Discuss the consequences of the behavior and how it can be improved.

Focus on Behavior, Not Personality

  • Keep the feedback focused on actions, not the individual’s character.
  • Avoid using judgmental language or making personal attacks.
  • Offer suggestions for improvement rather than dwelling on mistakes.

Encourage Two-Way Communication

  • Make feedback sessions a dialogue, encouraging team members to share their perspectives.
  • Be receptive to receiving feedback from your team as well, showing openness to improvement.
  • Consider feedback as an opportunity for mutual growth and learning.

Balance Positive and Constructive Feedback

  • Recognize and celebrate achievements and successes.
  • Follow constructive feedback with positive reinforcement to maintain motivation.
  • Balance areas of improvement with affirmations of strengths.

Set Clear Goals and Follow Up

  • Collaborate with team members to set clear, achievable goals.
  • Provide support and resources to help team members work towards their objectives.
  • Schedule follow-up sessions to monitor progress and offer additional guidance.

By offering constructive feedback, you create a culture of trust and continuous learning, ultimately improving team performance and fostering personal growth among team members.

Developing Relevant Skills

Becoming an active listener and providing constructive feedback are skills that require practice and refinement. Here are some strategies to help you develop and enhance these skills:

Role-Play and Training Workshops

  • Engage in role-playing exercises with colleagues or mentors to practice active listening and feedback delivery.
  • Attend training workshops or seminars focused on communication and leadership development.

Seek Feedback Yourself

  • Request feedback from your team members, peers, or superiors on your communication and feedback skills.
  • Be receptive to criticism and take it as an opportunity for growth.


  • Maintain a journal to reflect on your interactions and communication with your team.
  • Identify areas where you can improve and jot down ideas for enhancement.

Use Technology

  • Utilize communication tools that facilitate active listening and feedback, such as video conferencing with gesture recognition or feedback tracking software.
  • Leverage online resources, such as webinars or podcasts, to learn from experienced leaders.

Mentorship and Coaching

  • Seek guidance from experienced mentors or executive coaches who can provide personalized advice.
  • Observe how successful leaders handle communication and feedback in their own managerial roles.


As a new manager, mastering the art of active listening and providing constructive feedback will set the stage for your success. These essential skills enable you to create a supportive work environment, inspire your team, and drive continuous improvement. Remember that practice and ongoing learning are essential to developing these skills effectively. By incorporating active listening and feedback into your leadership style, you will foster a culture of collaboration and growth, leading your team towards long-term success.


  1. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books.
  2. Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S. (2014). Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Penguin Books.
  3. Wong, G. Y., & Watkins, R. (2017). Feedback that works: How to build and deliver your message. Harvard Business Review Press.
  4. Bolton, R. (1986). People skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts. Touchstone.

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