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?
These are all questions that many managers ask themselves, and this blog post is meant to address those questions and many more.
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. Insight Global believes leaders are meant to serve its employees, and managers and executives should work to make its employees better people and better 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 in your company. Many people like to know their employer is there to help them get better, and if they’re not getting feedback at all, they may go to another company that offers that kind of professional growth.
There are three types of feedback that you can give to your employees: positive, constructive, and destructive.
Positive feedback is when you tell your employee what they did well and how it benefited the company. These positive actions include things like developing a new framework for how to process bills or speaking up when a manager does something harmful to its employees. You want to make sure these are recognized with appropriate positive recognition.
Constructive feedback is when you point out areas in which your employee could improve their performance. Think of this as feedback that helps employees become better and more well-rounded professionals.
Lastly, destructive feedback is when you criticize your employee and their work in a harmful way. Avoid this kind of feedback, as you’ll see within the tips we give in a later section.
Why giving employee feedback can be difficult
Giving feedback to employees can be difficult because it’s hard to know what type of feedback is appropriate in a given situation. You also need to make sure that you phrase your feedback in a way that is helpful, not harmful. It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently to feedback, so you may have to adjust the way you give employee feedback depending on the individual.
Different personality types respond to feedback in different ways, so you’ll need to tailor your feedback accordingly (which we’ll get into more soon). Extroverts typically prefer positive feedback, while introverts may appreciate more constructive feedback. Employees who are high in self-esteem typically don’t need as much positive reinforcement, and employees who are low in self-esteem may need more frequent positive feedback to feel motivated.
These are just some brief examples.
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. As we just discussed in the last section, different personality types react differently to feedback, and those same personality types react differently to how often feedback is given.
Give Feedback in a Timely Manner
There’s no one perfect answer to when you should give feedback, though. 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. You don’t want an employee to do something good, then you wait two weeks to tell them that act was a good one. Similarly, if an employee needs constructive feedback on how to talk to customers or other employees, you don’t want to wait to tell them–the sooner they know how to adjust behavior, the better for both them and your business.
However, as we’ll discuss soon, you can give feedback a couple minutes or hours after the action if the timing is appropriate.
Employee Feedback Tips
Here’s the meat of why you came here: the tips on how to give employee feedback. We’ve listed out 17 of them ranging from how to give feedback, what tone you should use, and what to focus on when giving feedback.
1. Make sure your feedback is helpful and constructive
Effective employee feedback is clear, specific, and actionable. Feedback should never be vague or general, nor should any of your communications with employees. Attach a helping point to the issue at hand so you’re not leaving an employee with space to ruminate on how to fix the problem.
For example, instead of saying, “you’re not meeting deadlines,” you can approach an employee who has missed consecutive deadlines “I noticed that your last three projects were turned in a couple days late. Would you like to sit down and work on how to prioritize certain tasks over others?” In this scenario, you may also ask an employee if there’s anything beyond prioritization that they need help with to help get their job done more effectively.
2. Check your motives
Before giving corrective feedback, take a step back and ask yourself why you want to give said feedback. Are you motivated by a genuine desire to help the person improve, or are you motivated by something else? If it’s the latter, reconsider giving feedback.
Remember: you are a leader to serve your employees. If the feedback is not going to be positive or constructive, find a way to reframe what you want to tell them.
3. Be mindful of how you deliver your feedback
Delivery is critical when giving negative feedback or when providing positive feedback. Your tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions can communicate just as much as your words do. Avoid sounding judgmental, condescending, or angry.
For example, try to avoid using phrases like “you always” or “you never.” Instead, use “I noticed that in the past ____ happened.”
And that leads to…
4. Use “I” statements
When giving feedback, use “I” statements. This will help to ensure that the focus is on your thoughts and critiques of employee’s performance, not what the company as a whole or some larger entity thinks. “I” statements personalize the information, too.
“I think you’re doing a great job with your sales this month” sounds more affirming than simply “you’re doing a great job.”
5. Do not belittle your employees
It’s important to remember that your employees are human beings. They will make mistakes, and they deserve to be treated with respect. No one responds well to being belittled or humiliated, so avoid doing this when giving feedback.
Constructive feedback doesn’t need to be given directly after an employees makes an error, especially if it’s in front of other employees or customers. You can pull the employee to the side later on in the day at a more appropriate time.
6. Make time for feedback sessions
Giving feedback is a process that takes time and practice. Employees need plenty of opportunities to receive feedback, process it, and improve. Try to set up regular feedback conversations so that employees can get the most benefit from your feedback. These can be done in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly catchups with your employees.
This will help both you and employees get in the habit of giving and receiving feedback. During these feedback sessions, you should also be open to receiving feedback from your employees. Your relationship with them is symbiotic, and you can set a good example for them on how to receive feedback in the process.
7. Keep a positive approach
When giving employees feedback, it’s important to remember to stay positive. Focusing on the negative aspects of someone’s performance will only make them feel discouraged and demoralized. Try to focus on the things that they are doing well, and offer encouragement along with your feedback if it is more constructive than positive. This will help employee engagement.
8. Be aware of your own biases
We all have biases–conscious and unconscious–and it’s important to be aware of them when giving feedback. Make sure that your feedback is based on the person’s actual performance, not on your personal biases.
9. Give time for response
When you are providing feedback, give your employees time to respond. Allow them to ask questions, offer their own thoughts, and reflect on what you’ve said. Do not rush them or pressure them to respond immediately.
In most circumstances, it wouldn’t be fair to ask an employee to change their work habits in a couple days. Keep track of how the employee is working to improve. That’s where the real progress comes from: the process.
10. Keep employee feedback private
Feedback should be a personal conversation between the giver and the receiver, not something that is shared with others. Keep the details of the feedback session private, and do not discuss it with others, unless managers higher than your position request or need the information about what you talked about.
Do not share the feedback with the employee’s peers. That decision is up to them.
11. Focus on the issue at hand as an example
When giving constructive feedback, focus on the specific issue at hand rather than generalizing. For example, if an employee’s work is sloppy, don’t say, “you’re a messy person.” Instead, say, “I noticed that some of your work was disorganized on the project we did last week. Can you tell me more about what happened?” This will help the employee focus on the issue at hand and make it easier to improve.
12. Be specific
When giving feedback, use specific examples to illustrate your points. This lets people know exactly where the feedback is coming from. This can allow the employee to do a similar action again if the feedback was positive, or it gives them an example to build off if the critique was constructive.
13. Encourage dialogue
Dialogue helps employees feel like they are a part of the feedback process. It also allows them to ask questions, offer their own thoughts, and reflect on what you’ve said. This helps them understand and apply your feedback more effectively. When feedback is positive, ask the employee what led them to make the decision or action they did. This can inform future trainings for other employees.
14. Make a point to give feedback regularly
Feedback is most effective when it’s given regularly. You don’t want to wait until an employee has made a mistake before giving them constructive feedback. Conversely, you don’t want an employee routinely working like a star employee and leave them hanging in the feedback department.
Employees deserve to be praised with recognition and given teachable feedback to make them better professionals.
15. Tailor your employee feedback to their personality type
Part of being a manager is understanding each of your employee’s personalities. Not all employees will react to feedback in the same way. Some employees may appreciate the positive feedback, while others may prefer constructive feedback with a positive spin on it. You’ll need to tailor your feedback accordingly to be the most effective.
When giving feedback, it’s essential to use the correct phrases. Positive phrases will help motivate employees, while constructive words will help them improve their performance. Destructive phrases, on the other hand, will only serve to harm employee relationships.
16. Avoid using judgmental or negative language
When giving feedback, it’s important to avoid using judgmental language. Here are some constructive employee feedback examples. Don’t say, “you’re wrong,” or “you’re bad at this.” Instead, phrase your feedback in a way that is helpful and non-judgmental. Offer extra trainings or time if the employee needs it.
Similarly, it’s important to avoid using negative language when giving feedback. The second example would be not to say “you didn’t do well” or “you did that poorly.” Instead, phrase your feedback in a way that is positive and encouraging so the employee knows you’re here to help them become better professionals.
17. Follow up on your feedback
Following up on your feedback is important in order to ensure that your employee is making progress. If you don’t follow up, your feedback may go ignored or taken in the wrong way. This all relates back to communication and keeping an open dialogue.
Giving feedback can be difficult, but it’s essential to remember how to stay positive and focus on the issue at hand. Be aware of your own biases, give time for a response, and keep feedback private.
When giving feedback, try to use specific examples and provide feedback promptly. Encourage dialogue between you and your employees. Remember that offering feedback helps employees improve their performance on future projects. You’re here to serve them and make them better professionals. Do so with care and tact.