13 Ways To Give Better Feedback

Updated July 21, 2022

Good feedback helps keep an organization efficient, healthy and self-aware. It takes time and thought to develop the skill of giving good feedback, but certain techniques make it easier. In this article, we examine thirteen ways to improve your feedback.

What good feedback can do

Making feedback part of your company's patterns can make you more efficient and help you solve problems more quickly. When your employees have regular conversations about their performance and environment, they feel more ownership of their work and are more motivated. And when they get specific feedback, they know how to channel that motivation into productive change.

Related: 4 Ways Feedback Improves Performance in The Workplace

How to give better feedback

1. Know why you're giving feedback

Be clear on exactly what you intend to achieve by giving feedback. For annual or quarterly meetings, consider specifically how you want the person to improve before the next meeting. When you know what you want each person to get out of the feedback, you'll be able to lead the conversation in that direction.

2. Plan the timing

Consider the timing and scope of your feedback. When challenges arise, a prompt response helps everyone involved to improve the situation or process immediately. This is more efficient and can keep morale and productivity high. An annual review might be a great opportunity to discuss less urgent goals and trends.

3. Create a routine

Consider setting a schedule for feedback, so that it becomes part of your organization's normal routine. The more regularly feedback happens, the less stressful it is for all parties. A routine also provides more opportunities to see what type of feedback works and helps you refine your own communication skills.

4. Frame the feedback with an invitation

Inviting someone to receive feedback can help them prepare for it. If this is informal feedback, you might simply ask them if it's a convenient time to receive feedback. If it's a regularly scheduled review, you can check with them before setting a time. This frames the feedback as a conversation, which gives the recipient agency. It also shows that you respect their everyday work and can prevent the feedback itself from interfering with their tasks and reducing productivity.

5. Prepare the feedback

Collect all relevant information before you give feedback. This way you can aim the feedback at the right person and make it accurate. It's also important to prioritize the feedback you'd like to give, so that you can focus and avoid distractions during meetings. Making a list of each point you want to mention can prevent you from overlooking any information and keep the conversation organized.

6. Make it personal

Consider the person getting the feedback as you think about how you want to present it. As you work with someone, take note of what motivates and discourages them. You can take advantage of personal indicators to phrase or frame your feedback in an individualized and appropriate way.

7. Say what you mean

Try putting your feedback in the simplest possible terms, and consider practicing what you are going to say. Being straightforward and honest can help you avoid misunderstandings and create trust. It helps to be specific about an incident or behavior, whether positive or negative. When someone knows that a specific action is helpful or unhelpful, they can change their behavior more easily.

8. Put the feedback in context

Show how your feedback fits in with larger personal and organization-wide goals. This helps people understand the reasoning behind the feedback. Seeing the results of the action or issue can also help motivate people to take the feedback seriously and be proactive in preventing similar shortcomings in the future.

9. Give specific examples

Instead of talking about vague qualities, try to quantify what you mean in a way that is measurable, so that the person you're talking to can know exactly what they need to improve upon.

Example: "Our team has met our new sales goal this quarter for the second time in a row, and your personal numbers of phone sales from new customers have been great. I want to see you keep your stats so consistently high, and make your numbers from this year 20 percent higher than last year."

Example: "Your contributions to meetings have been pretty negative lately, and I'd like you to help us work toward a more innovative team atmosphere. Going forward, I'd like to hear a new idea from you at each weekly content meeting."

10. Keep your feedback balanced

Mixing positive and corrective feedback can make constructive criticism easier for people to accept. A technique that can help with this is to consider the feedback from the recipient's perspective. Recognizing success can be a powerful motivator, as can hearing specific things to improve, but they are most effective when utilized together.

Read more: The Importance of Positive Feedback and How To Deliver It to Others

11. Make feedback a conversation

Active listening helps feedback to make more of an impact. As you give feedback, allow time for the person to ask any questions they may have. When people have opportunities to explain or talk about their performance, they feel more involved, and can take responsibility for their actions and successes.

Example: "How can I help you improve your sales stats for next quarter?"

Example: "Is this a fair representation of what happened at that meeting, or do you have a different take?"

12. Create a feedback-friendly environment

When you make feedback is a normal part of your organization's operations, receiving feedback becomes less stressful and creates a more transparent work environment. As you invite others to receive feedback, encourage them to ask for feedback as well. Research healthy ways to process feedback and share them with your team, so that your organization can benefit as much as possible. Consider adding different forms of feedback to your company's processes, like a 360 feedback process or a weekly survey.

Read more: FAQ: Giving and Receiving 360 Degree Feedback in the Workplace

13. Check back in

Giving feedback is a skill, and improves with practice as you see what works and what doesn't. Checking in after giving feedback can help you understand which techniques work best. Keeping records of individual personnel goals and feedback meetings makes it easier to track progress and changes.

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