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9 Tips for Giving Effective Employee Feedback

These tips can deliver the desired outcomes.

Content Partner profile image
by Content Partner
9 Tips for Giving Effective Employee Feedback
Photo by Amy Hirschi / Unsplash

Employee feedback is an incredibly powerful tool that can significantly enhance workplace dynamics. When offered correctly, it has the potential to foster growth and development, elevate trust and communication levels, and fortify relationships between employees and managers. Unfortunately, many shy away from offering feedback to avoid discomfort. 

To help you navigate this crucial process, here are nine tips for providing frequent and effective employee feedback that delivers the desired outcomes. 

Avoid unsolicited advice 

Only a third of people believe the feedback they receive is helpful, often because it’s unsolicited, leading to stress and defensiveness. If your direct report doesn’t request feedback directly — whether in person or via online tool — make sure to ask them when and how they’d prefer to receive it. This approach empowers employees, enhances their comfort, and increases the likelihood that they will act on the feedback you offer. 

Be specific 

Employee feedback should be solutions-oriented, crystal clear, and direct. Avoid vague comments like "Your work needs to be improved," as they can confuse employees. Instead, pinpoint the exact issue and offer actionable steps for improvement. 

For instance, say, "I noticed you missed the last two deadlines. Let's work together on your time management to help you meet future deadlines." 

Providing specific guidance makes the feedback more actionable and ensures your employee knows exactly what steps to take to improve. 

For example, 360 review feedback is one useful tool for specific, actionable feedback. This type of review is meant to give a more rounded review of the employee. 

Bring deep empathy 

When giving feedback that reveals a significant gap in self-awareness, approach the conversation with heightened sensitivity. Understand that initial reactions may be emotional or defensive. Set aside any frustration you may have and prioritize empathy. 

Before engaging, prepare yourself to give your colleague the space to process the feedback. Allow them to absorb the information without misinterpreting their reaction as an outright rejection of your message. Empathy will help facilitate a more constructive dialogue. 

Don’t wait for a quarterly review 

Employee feedback gains maximum effectiveness when provided promptly after an event, fostering immediate improvements in performance. Aim to give feedback on a weekly basis to prevent issues from compounding. Addressing concerns early reduces the likelihood of them escalating into more significant problems by the next performance review. 

Regular feedback also combats recency bias, presenting a more accurate picture of an employee’s work over time. Consistent feedback embedded into routine workflows makes tracking and analyzing performance easier for everyone involved. 

Keep it private 

Criticizing publicly can humiliate and demoralize an employee. Keep sensitive feedback between you and the individual to maintain their dignity. Even praise can be better received privately, as not everyone enjoys being the center of attention. 

Written feedback is another effective method, providing you with the opportunity to deliver a carefully considered and thoughtful message. Selecting a relaxed setting for feedback can help ease tensions for both parties, making the conversation more productive and less intimidating. 

Avoid the "sandwich approach" 

Sandwiching corrective feedback between two pieces of positive feedback can create confusion and undermine your message. This method may seem like it softens the blow, but it often decreases trust and dilutes the significance of the feedback. 

Be upfront and honest, presenting the corrective feedback clearly and directly. While it might feel uncomfortable, being transparent fosters genuine dialogue. Focus on delivering your feedback tactfully, ensuring that the conversation remains constructive and respectful. Clarity and honesty will build a stronger, more trustworthy relationship with your employees. 

Make the conversation two-way 

Lecturing someone on how they should improve is about as effective as talking to a brick wall. Respect is crucial when discussing vulnerable topics; instead of delivering a monologue, open up the conversation. Engage the employees by allowing them to respond to your feedback and ask follow-up questions. 

This interactive approach ensures that the issue is clearly understood, and together, you can collaboratively work towards a solution or actionable course of action. This respect fosters a more productive and trusting relationship. 

Focus on performance, not personality 

When providing feedback, emphasize specific behaviors rather than personal traits. For instance, saying, "When you interrupt me in front of a client, it causes a problem," targets the disruptive action without attacking the individual's character. 

This approach helps the employee understand the exact issue and how to correct it, fostering improvement. In contrast, feedback like "Your arrogance is causing a problem" can be demotivating and unproductive, as it targets personality traits that are harder to change. 

Follow up 

Don’t treat feedback conversations as a one-time event. Continually check in with your direct reports to show genuine interest in their progress. Recognize and appreciate improvements to demonstrate that you care about their success. 

This ongoing support can encourage them to maintain their efforts and contribute positively to their development. Regular follow-ups can also strengthen your relationship, fostering a more collaborative and communicative workplace culture that values growth and performance.

Content Partner profile image
by Content Partner

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