Adapting Feedback for the Conscientious Employee

Just imagine sitting around a conference room table with your team. One of your direct reports is delivering an update for a project they are working on. As their supervisor, you take a moment to congratulate them and support them with positive feedback because you’re blown away by their amazingness. 


However…. There is just one baffling thing—the employee looks dumbfounded and confused. It’s as if they employee has taken your feedback the wrong way and totally disregarded the feedback. Now the manager might be wondering was the feedback given not authentic? Perhaps the messaging was just off? 

More than most likely the positive feedback was authentically conveyed! However, different employees have different motivators than your own preference. Perhaps you enjoy public recognition, but you may have an employee who does not enjoy public recognition. The focus of this blog is to support managers in understanding two different personality styles and how receiving feedback differs among employees. Avoid your feedback being shredded by adapting your delivery with the use of DiSC. 

Managers can be much more influential by shifting their communication style to match the style of each employee. Let’s examine a manager who is generally fast-paced, enthusiastic, warm and accepting who manages someone who is methodical, inquisitive, and systematic. 


For those of you who are familiar with the DiSC Model, the manager is an I(nfluence) style and the employee is a (C)onscientiousness style.

An employee with a C style can often be demotivated by an overt display of emotion. It will be important for an I style manager to be aware of their tone when delivering positive feedback. The enthusiastic, supportive-cheerleading tone may put a C style employee on guard and cause them to analyze the underlying reason rather than focus on the feedback. 

The environment in which you deliver feedback to a C style employee is important. Sitting around a conference table full of their peers may not be appropriate. The C style employee will enjoy a 1:1 conversation with their manager and does not seek public recognition. 

While providing feedback to a C style it will be important to recognize or emphasize the technical aspect of their contribution and how it has contributed to the mastery or body of knowledge of the organization, quality of a product or service, or an outcome driven result. 


An I style manager by default may want to deliver the following feedback in a very enthusiastic cheerful tone in a conference room full of their peers: “Everyone, this disabilities awareness training that Janet has put her heart into over the last two months is going to broaden our diversity training and support employees to really live our values of respect and diversity. Really nice job Janet!”

For a C style employee, the public recognition, enthusiastic tone, inclusiveness and emphasis on values or impact may not have the motivational punch that an I style manager was hoping for. To truly support the employee, an I style manager will need to stretch out of their comfort zone and into the employees C style to bolster their motivation. 


Consider delivering the feedback 1:1 in a private setting with a positive but not overly enthusiastic tone: “Janet I reviewed your presentation for our upcoming disabilities awareness training. The presentation was comprehensive, well-rounded, and is based on best practices for this particular area of diversity. Your thorough presentation will deepen the employees’ sense of respect for diversity among the service recipients we serve.”

This type of feedback would be much more motivating for a C style employee. However, each person is different and this is a rule-of-thumb. It’s important to not stereotype employees, and to trust your intuition when personalizing and delivering feedback. The point is, that we’re all different, and learning how to flex our communication style based on our employees needs will only serve to enhance their performance. 

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss how you can spotlight your effectiveness in delivering feedback. 

© Aaron Z. Carlson 2018