I haven’t found feedback I’ve received in the past useful. Now I’ve been made team leader in a medium-sized food manufacturer, how can I give feedback that is helpful?

I’m glad that you want to make feedback part of your management style. Great managers are good at feedback. My maxim is ‘do it often and do it in private!’ When you give praise, make it public, but feedback needs to be detailed and constructive so the recipient can either change his or her behaviour or reinforce it.

The real key is not to wait till the dreaded annual appraisal, but to tap your colleague on the shoulder and give immediate, honest, clear and specific thoughts on what they are doing. Make it a conversation, and make it personal: let them hear your thoughts about the problem. Feedback should be the norm. Start asking your team: “how could I have done that better?”

One CEO I know always tells me: “Feedback is the food of champions, so don’t starve yourself”. Now you’ve thought about it, why not see if you can get better feedback from your manager in the same spirit as you are giving it to your team?

I’m fed up with feeling guilty about leaving the office before others. The boss consistently works late but I would like to stay married. How do I challenge this ‘presenteeism’?

I don’t know whether my answer should be work harder, work smarter or get a new job. I often come across certain businesses with a culture of long hours, often producing outstanding results, where arguments about ‘outputs not hours’ may not be well received. But in these companies there is a palpable enthusiasm and excited activity.

However, for most managers a heart-to-heart conversation will produce results as long as you clearly demonstrate you are committed to achieving his or her departmental goals. You need to explain that if the work demands it, you are happy about finishing off certain documents at home. You need your manager to hear that you are committed and not a skiver.

So be clear about how you will deliver and how you will communicate your progress. Finally, you may find your manager is keen for you to have a great work/life balance anyway.