9 Tips to Keep in Mind When Giving Employee Feedback

The way you give employee feedback can significantly impact how your employees perform. But how do you know what type of feedback is effective? How often should you offer feedback to an employee? How should you phrase the feedback?

Let’s address these questions and more to help you on your journey to improving as a leader.

Why giving employee feedback is important

Giving feedback to your employees is crucial because it allows them to know where they stand with their job performance. Leaders are meant to make its employees better people and professionals. Feedback helps with that.

Some other benefits of feedback are that it:

  • Motivates employees to continue performing at a high level
  • Helps employees learn and grow from their mistakes
  • Improves employee relationships with their managers and coworkers

Giving feedback can also help retain employees. More than 85%  of employees in a Nectar survey said that recognition affects their motivation at work. Many people like to know their employer will help them get better. If they’re not getting any feedback about their performance, they look for other opportunities that help their professional growth.

There are two primary types of feedback you can give to your employees:

  • Positive feedback: When you tell your employee what they did well and how it benefited the company. You want to make sure these are recognized with appropriate positive recognition.
  • Constructive feedback: When you point out areas in which your employee can improve their performance. Think of this as feedback that helps employees become better and more well-rounded professionals.

Destructive feedback—when you criticize your employee and their work in a harmful way—is one you should avoid.

Read: How to Get Better At The Art of Feedback

Why giving employee feedback can be difficult

Although offering feedback is a critical part of managing a team, it does require tact and nuance. Some common challenges when discussing an employee’s performance include:

  • Reacting poorly to negative feedback.
  • They may be unsure how to apply the feedback to their work.
  • They may feel less motivated if they feel they’re being constantly criticized.

Keep these possibilities in mind to help you avoid common pitfalls and provide supportive, productive feedback to your team members.

When should I give feedback to my employees?

It can be difficult to parse the waters of who gets feedback and how often. You don’t want anyone to feel left out. However, there’s no one perfect answer to when you should give feedback.

It’s generally a good idea to give feedback as soon as possible after something has happened and at the appropriate time. This allows employees enough time to process and eventually act on your feedback—but this time range can span from seconds after an act or weeks.

Related: A Quick Guide: 8 Communication Skills Managers Need

Employee Feedback Tips

So let’s dive into how about the tips to keep in mind when putting employee feedback into action.

1. Be Solution-Oriented

When giving feedback, focus on the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.

Instead of exclusively discussing what an employee is doing wrong, explain the behavior you’d like to see and help them create a plan for meeting those expectations. Similarly, if an employee is doing a great job, discuss what future solutions you and the employee can start planning for. (Future projects, career growth, etc.)

Come up with a plan together to address any feedback and, as future tips will clarify, follow up on the plan.

2. Provide Examples

Anecdotal examples can also be powerful tools for helping your employees understand where their successes and improvement opportunities lie.

Use both qualitative and quantitative examples when discussing feedback with employees. On top of anecdotes, assess any key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate to the feedback you’re sharing. Is your employee consistently exceeding or falling short of their goals? This is all evidence the employee can use to create a plan and take actionable steps moving forward.

3. Choose the Right Timing

It’s important to give feedback with a regular cadence to ensure that it’s still relevant. Having regular performance reviews and feedback sessions gives you a consistent, structured time frame for sharing key feedback. You can also schedule one-off meetings with employees if you have any particularly praise or critique you’d like to provide before their next performance review cycle.

4. Balance Positive and Constructive Feedback

Positive and constructive feedback should be balanced. Know where they’re performing well is just as important as knowing where they need to improve. Also, feedback session will become more welcoming and collaborative when both sides know the whole picture will be discussed.

5. Use Thoughtful Language

When sharing constructive feedback with employees, be thoughtful about your phrasing and tone. Focus on discussing specific behaviors or outcomes that you’ve observed instead of making character judgments against an employee. Acknowledge the employee’s strengths and positive attributes when providing feedback to show you value their work—no matter the content of the feedback.

6. Listen to Your Their Perspective

Your employees may have an unexpected explanation for their overall performance. Ask questions about the context of their performance, then be receptive to their perspective on the situation. They may need support, may not have realized that their behavior was an issue, or they received help from other teammates, who helped them excel.

Give them time and space to absorb your feedback and then share their thoughts or ask questions of their own.

7. Share Helpful Resources

Provide your employees with resources that can help them reinforce any feedback you provided. This can come in the form of:

  • Training sessions that help refine leadership skills
  • Webinars in their specific area expertise that allow them to learn and better know their field
  • Internal resources that focus on upskilling and knowledge sharing

Give them actionable ways to improve. If you aren’t sure what resources would be helpful in a certain situation, ask the employee what type of support they need to achieve their new performance goals.

8. Document Your Feedback

Documenting the feedback you provide to employees creates a helpful paper trail of their successes and areas of improvement, and it makes it easier to track their progress. If you don’t have a formal internal HR system for this, emailing notes to employees after a feedback session can keep both sides on the same page! And that leads to…

9. Follow Up

Give your employees time to digest and implement any constructive feedback. Then follow up to determine track their progress and if they need help addressing any areas previously discussed. Engaging with your employees as they strive to improve motivates them to consistently apply your feedback. Be sure to offer positive reinforcement and praise their success when they do successfully implement your suggestions.

Enrich Your Team With Quality Feedback

By regularly giving thoughtful feedback, you can empower your entire team to achieve their full potential. Solution-oriented, specific, positive feedback gives your employees the tools they need to thrive in their roles. You’ll encourage your employees to become lifelong learners who constantly strive to improve while also helping them become more confident in their strengths.

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.

Updated: January 22, 2024