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How To Give Constructive Feedback To Your Filipino VAs

Navigate tricky conversations and give constructive feedback to your Filipino virtual assistants like a pro in this comprehensive guide.
Receiving and giving constructive feedback is never easy, and doing it remotely only makes things 100x more challenging.

How do you dish out critique without being misconstrued? Should you deliver it through video, email, or chat? How do you strike the balance between empathy and candor?

It’s a tricky space to navigate, especially if it’s your first time working with remote Filipino virtual assistants. But don’t stress out — in this guide, we’ll help you give feedback that not only corrects behavior but also motivates your team to go above and beyond your expectations.

It all starts by changing your mindset about giving employee feedback:

Why it’s important to give constructive feedback

Newsflash: your team actually wants to hear constructive criticism. Studies show that 72% of employees think that corrective feedback is useful in helping them grow in their careers.

Filipino virtual assistants who genuinely care about their job crave constructive criticism.

They use it to produce better results and recognize blind spots. If you’re feeling apprehensive about giving constructive feedback to your Filipino VA — relax. As long as it’s coming from a place of help and delivered with empathy, it’s something that your employees will appreciate.

When given the right way, knowing how to deliver feedback the right way helps you:

Improve overall team performance

Honest feedback is better than no feedback at all.

Writers, for example, produce better articles when an editor reviews their work and points out areas for improvement. Junior designers can learn from the experience of their seniors. In the same vein, your VA can also learn from your feedback instead of figuring things out themselves.

Build an open and supportive environment

Normalizing candor and encouraging your team to give and receive feedback also creates a culture of openness and support. Studies show that when you create a supportive environment, your team will be more likely to take action and work towards improving themselves.

Retain awesome employees

More than money or status, people stay in companies that support their growth. Giving honest but empathetic feedback is one of the best ways to support your employees’ professional development. Do this and they’ll stay with your company for years to come.

Avoid toxic company culture

Lackluster performance, low engagement, gossiping, insecurity among your team — a lot of these toxic traits stem from unclear communication and bad feedback practices. Nip this in the bud by learning how to communicate feedback effectively.

Grow as a leader

Giving feedback doesn’t just benefit your assistant — it also helps you grow as a leader. As you work together with your Filipino VA, you’ll learn how to communicate your ideas more clearly and navigate tough conversations.

Constructive feedback examples

A woman smiling and waving at someone during a videocall

The first step to delivering effective feedback is knowing the difference between “giving tough love” and “being mean”. There’s a fine line between the two.

At a glance, constructive criticism is:

  • objective and tactful
  • clear and actionable
  • comes from a place of helpfulness and empathy
  • given to make room for growth
  • genuine and sincere

On the other hand, it’s not:

  • a way to hurt or belittle someone personally
  • about putting blame on the other person
  • an excuse to micromanage and nitpick
  • vague or sugar coated

Now that you know the difference, let’s jump into practical applications. How do you give feedback that spurs your team into action? We have a few ideas:

How to give feedback that actually works

Two women on a videocall

Be objective

First rule of giving feedback: base it on things that you can observe, not on your feelings and assumptions. Focus on the work, not the person.

It’s easy to jump the gun and use emotion-driven language, especially when your assistant fails to meet expectations. The problem with this approach is that it takes the focus away from your critique of their work — and makes you sound like you’re personally criticizing your VA instead. This will only make them defensive and ultimately reject your feedback.

Instead of viewing the situation from a subjective point of view, use phrases like “I observed”, “I noticed”, or “I saw” to objectively communicate your findings.

Instead of saying:
  • “You didn’t do this task right”
  • “This design is ugly”
  • “You’re slacking off”

  • “Hey, I noticed a typo on that email”
  • “I observed that you’re having a hard time meeting deadlines”
  • “So I reviewed your output and noticed that some elements don’t follow our style guidelines.”

This way, you’re giving feedback that’s clear, specific, and actionable. Plus, you’ll avoid sounding like you’re pointing fingers or assigning blame. This brings us to our next point:

Focus on creating solutions

To give feedback that inspires action, focus on demanding accountability instead of assigning blame. Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Centers on finding a person’s faults
  • Based on assumptions and incomplete information
  • Focuses on the problem instead of solutions
  • Aims to punish the person for messing up
  • Simply rehashes the mistake but doesn’t do anything to improve the situation.

  • Centers on the action or output
  • Based on facts
  • Focuses on creating solutions
  • Comes from your assistants' initiative to take ownership of their actions — whether it’s good or bad

Focus on creating a culture of accountability instead of assigning blame to your assistants when they do something wrong.

When they make a mistake, talk about the situation. What was the expected outcome? What did they do correctly? What went wrong? From there you can create steps on how to move forward and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.


If your assistant is struggling with a steep learning curve, break the task into small milestones. Make them accountable by checking their progress during 1:1 alignment calls.

Give specific examples of your desired outcome

Being clear about your expectations from the get-go can save you a ton of time and energy.

During your project kick-off or perhaps on your onboarding call, paint a specific picture of what success looks like for you. Identify what you want to get out of the project. Set clear expectations. This reduces unnecessary back-and-forth communication with your team and also lessens revisions along the way.

For instance:
  • Instead of telling your assistant “I want our emails to be better”, try “let’s increase our open rates by 10%”.
  • Maybe you want to up your social media game. Tell them to “grow our Twitter followers to 500 by the end of the quarter” instead of simply saying you want to improve your performance.

Remember: what seems obvious to you may be super abstract to your team members. This is especially true in a remote setting where you have limited opportunities to communicate with nuance and non-verbal cues.

Leave little room for miscommunication and unmet expectations by aligning your goals from the start.

Use the right channel

If the feedback is small and can be corrected easily, you can do it through chat, email, or by leaving a comment on the document. Recording a Loom video is also useful when you need to walk your assistant through a specific process.

But if you need to dish out big or complex feedback — maybe you need to deliver tough news or want to correct a certain behavior — the best way would be to talk to your assistant through a video call.

This way, you can deliver your message without it being misconstrued. Doing it face-to-face also helps you check your assistant’s body language.

Take note of cultural communication styles

Two Filipino photographers smile for the camera

The Philippines’ work and communication style is a bit different from the US. Filipinos come from a high-context culture that values close relationships and harmony among the team. Like many Asian countries, saving face is also important for them.

If you want your feedback to be received well, take note of these cultural nuances.

For instance, Filipinos often perceive directness as confrontational. Instead of dishing negative feedback bluntly, try a discreet, more tactful approach. Phrasing your feedback in question form, or offering suggestions instead of giving orders can be helpful, too.

Take care not to call anyone out in group settings. As much as possible, discipline in private — during 1:1s, for example — versus putting someone in the spot.


Ask your employees how they want to receive feedback. Some folks may not be comfortable being put in the spotlight during a team meeting, even if it’s for a good reason.

Timing matters

According to Know Your Team CEO Claire Lew, timing also plays a big role in giving effective feedback to team members.

“Depending on who the person is, what the feedback is, what is going on in the work environment, and even what mental state you are in – all are factors into when to give feedback to an employee,” says Lew.

Some best practices when it comes to timing
  • Don’t sit on it for too long, especially if the action can be easily fixed. If you’d like your assistant to draft more conversational emails versus writing super formal ones, for example, let them know before they send out another email. You’re preventing this small hiccup from turning into a full-blown issue. Your assistant will appreciate the heads-up, as well.
  • If you’re dealing with more serious feedback, set aside time for it. Choose a time and environment where you can discuss things openly. Make sure that you’ve got the headspace to process potentially difficult conversations, too.
  • Avoid giving negative feedback when the person is visibly upset or stressed. It’s a waste of time and emotional energy. Make sure both of you are mentally and emotionally ready.
  • Stick to your catch-up call schedules. Regularly checking in with your assistant helps you track their progress, wins, and areas for improvement. Don’t wait for the monthly or quarterly review to deliver feedback, especially critical ones.


Still don’t know the best time to give feedback? Ask your assistant. You’d find that some of them love receiving feedback early in the day, while others prefer 1:1s after they’ve finished their tasks. Maybe you’ll discover that you’re better at giving feedback during certain times of the day, too.

Bottomline: this’ll help you find a 1:1 schedule that works for both of you.

Come from a place of help

Employees appreciate receiving feedback from folks who have their best interests in mind. Let them know that you’re doing this because you genuinely care about their progress and they’ll likely be more receptive.

"Leaders in a supportive environment for feedback had much better performance improvement over time than those in the unsupportive feedback environment,” Lisa Steelman, an industrial and organizational psychologist and professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, said in a recent study.

Coming from a place of help not only improves individual employee performance — it also allows you to build a company culture based on supportiveness and productive candor.

Make it a conversation

Effective feedback is a two-way street. No one likes being talked at, so make it a conversation. After delivering your piece, ask your assistant for their opinion and thoughts about your feedback. This gives them the space to provide more context about their actions, open up about challenges that you’re not aware of, or maybe offer a better plan of action.

Ask if:
  • Your observations are correct
  • They think you’re missing any key information or context
  • They’d like to clear something up
  • They have a plan of action moving forward

Creating a space for conversation has so many benefits. You’re not only encouraging your assistant to speak up — you’re also helping  them to come up with solutions of their own. This empowers them, gives them agency, and keeps them accountable.

It also benefits you as a manager — you’ll learn how to lead with empathy and create a stronger relationship with your team in the process. It’s a win-win for both of you.

Avoid giving shit sandwiches

“I love your output, but I don’t like  x, y, and z. Can you change it? Anyways, good job!”

Have you given feedback this way? This is called a “shit sandwich” — a method where you “sandwich” negative feedback between praise. Lots of people recommend giving this to soften the blow, but it actually does more harm than good.

For one, it’s a confusing way to give feedback. Is your assistant doing a great job or do they need to improve? They’ll often end up confused if you keep sending these mixed signals.

A shit sandwich also doesn’t correct behavior. By mixing praise with your critique, you’re diluting the impact and urgency of your feedback. Your assistant will likely brush it off or worse — think that it’s disingenuous and insincere.

Lastly, this type of feedback does not contribute to your assistant’s growth. Most people use it for their own good — they don’t want to feel bad about giving a negative comment so they try to cushion and even sugarcoat their statements.

A better way to deliver feedback is to be straightforward — and you can do it without sounding like a jerk, too.

Instead, structure your feedback into three clear sections:
  • what they did well
  • what needs to improve —
  • — and the action plan moving forward.

This format helps you give feedback objectively without sugarcoating or downplaying your insights. It also encourages your assistant to take actionable steps to improve their work.

Navigate tough conversations with tact and patience

Two women appear to have a serious conversation

Sometimes you can’t avoid having difficult conversations with your assistant. Maybe they made a mistake that cost the company a significant amount of money or needed serious disciplinary action after breaking company rules.

Whatever the situation is, you’ll have to navigate it with tact and empathy.

Here’s what you can do:
  • Set the tone from the get-go. Let your assistant know that you’re doing this because you genuinely care about their growth, and sometimes that means being accountable for their actions.
  • As mentioned earlier, carving out time to discuss big issues is important. Make sure you’re both in the right headspace to give — and receive — feedback. Don’t rush and most importantly, don’t do it over chat.
  • Be prepared. If you need to take disciplinary action, make sure you’ve got the right documentation. Prepare progress notes of your 1:1 check-ins, monthly or quarterly performance evaluations, and other records to support your decision.
  • Get to the bottom of the problem. If you’ve been trying to correct your assistant’s behavior but nothing seems to be working, maybe there’s an underlying issue. Try using the 5 Whys format to dig out the root cause.
  • Map out your next steps clearly. Now that you’ve talked about the problem, what needs to be done to correct it? Outline the next steps and if you need to, set milestones to monitor your assistant’s progress.

How can I tell when my feedback is working?

You can tell your feedback’s working when your assistant shows visible progress. They might be writing better emails on your behalf, for example, or organizing your schedule more efficiently.

But more than that, you know you’re doing a great job when they’re showing initiative and accountability. You don’t need to keep hovering over their shoulder to ask for updates — they’ll proactively offer it to you.

Your team’s ability to take and receive feedback with grace is also a sign that your approach is working. Gentle pushbacks, offering solid solutions, and genuinely listening to each other’s input — these are green flags that you should look out for.

Encourage your team to go above and beyond through constructive feedback

Offering honest yet supportive feedback is an art form. Master it by first changing your mindset about giving constructive criticism. Once you get over that initial hurdle, it’ll be easier to give feedback that encourages your team to go above and beyond.

Giving feedback is also easier when you work with the right team members. If you’re looking for assistants who match your work style and are big on taking action, we can help. Let us know about the roles you're hiring and we’ll help you find an assistant who can take — and give — feedback like a pro.

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