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Giving Feedback to Employees: A Manager’s Guide

The relationship between management and employees should be one of open communication. Employee feedback is a valuable part of that communication. Managers should regularly provide their employees with feedback to improve job performance. Learn what employee feedback is, discover a process for giving feedback to employees with best practices and find answers to frequently asked questions.

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What is employee feedback?

Employee feedback is a response to employee performance or work product. Managers can provide two types of feedback:


  • Constructive feedback: Constructive feedback is prescriptive information based on a specific area that can be improved.
  • Positive feedback: Positive feedback is recognition and praise of excellent work.

Both constructive and positive feedback are valuable tools for employees. When giving employee feedback includes detailed examples of excellent work and areas for improvement, workers can focus on optimizing their job performance.


Related: Best Practices for Giving Constructive Feedback

A process for giving feedback to employees

Feedback is only effective if managers can clearly explain their feedback and employees can understand what they need to do with the feedback. Follow these steps to provide clear and useable feedback for your employees:


  • Identify the feedback
  • Prepare notes
  • Set a meeting
  • Share feedback
  • End with a positive

Identify the feedback

Begin by identifying areas in which the employee is performing well and areas in which the employee can improve. Create a list consisting of both positive and constructive feedback you’d like to provide, and make sure that both types of feedback are equally balanced.


Prepare notes

Prepare an outline that notes the order in which you plan to provide feedback. Notes will help you stay focused and ensure that the employee is provided with all the necessary information. An employee evaluation form can help you structure your notes.


Set a meeting

Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the employee. Give them time to prepare for the meeting and ask them to consider areas in which they think they are performing well and areas in which they can improve. This will help facilitate a constructive conversation and allow the employee to provide an honest assessment of their work performance.


Share feedback

Share your feedback with the employee in a private meeting. Structure the meeting as a conversation and give the employee space to share their thoughts. Make sure the feedback you provide focuses only on the employee’s work performance and professional behavior. Don’t allow the conversation to veer off topic or become too personal or emotional.


End with a positive

Conclude the feedback meeting with your last piece of positive feedback. Ending on a positive note shows the employee they are a valuable addition to your company. Providing a positive send-off allows the employee to leave the meeting with a sense of accomplishment instead of focusing only on areas that need improving.


Related: The Importance of Positive Feedback and How to Deliver it to Others

Three best practices

Here are three best practices to keep in mind when crafting feedback for an employee:


Feedback should be specific

Any feedback you provide for your employees should be specific. Vague comments will not help your employees improve. When giving feedback to employees, whether positive or constructive, make sure to include specific details such as dates of work and specific tasks or projects that the employee worked on.


Example: You gave great details during the presentation on Tuesday, rather than Nice work presenting on Tuesday.


Feedback should be fixable

Manager feedback to employees should provide a prescription. Employees should leave the feedback meeting with a clear understanding of what they need to do to improve their work.


Example: Use graphs instead of written reports to document your monthly sales, rather than Make your sales easier to understand.


Feedback should be prompt

Give feedback as soon as possible. If you’re providing feedback on a presentation or work product, set a meeting for a few days after the event. If you’re providing quarterly feedback, give examples from the employee’s most recent work.


Example: Include web citations in your next research analysis, rather than Your first research analysis of the year was missing info.

Employee feedback tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to give employee feedback:


  • Consistent: Employees can become nervous when they learn they’re going to receive feedback. Make employee feedback a regular part of your communication with your team to ease tensions and normalize receiving constructive ideas for improvement.
  • Balanced: Keep the constructive feedback balanced with positive feedback. Demonstrate to your employees that their contributions to the company are seen and valued. Make sure your employees know that constructive feedback is meant to help them advance and not given to criticize their work.
  • Conversational: Feedback meetings should be conversational. Allow the employee to identify their own areas for growth and provide resources for development as needed.

Positive employee feedback examples

Here are some positive examples to consider when providing feedback to employees:


Positive feedback for working overtime: We really appreciate that you put in some extra hours to help the company during this busy time. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to reach the deadline without issues.


Positive feedback on work performance: You did a fantastic job on our latest project. I appreciate your attention to detail and ability to stay focused on the task at hand.


Positive feedback on training another employee: Thank you for taking the time out to train our new team member. She’s quickly learning her position thanks to your excellent leadership skills and positive attitude.


    Constructive employee feedback examples

    Here are some constructive examples to consider when providing employee feedback:


    Constructive feedback on work performance: I’ve always appreciated your hard work and commitment to the company; however, I’ve noticed that your sales have declined in the past few weeks, and you’ve been absent from work twice in the past month. I just wanted to connect with you and offer my support to help you get back on track.


    Constructive feedback on a complaint from an employee/coworker: I wanted to meet with you face to face to talk to you about something that’s come to my attention. A few of your coworkers expressed their concern to me regarding a few interactions you’ve had with them lately. They informed me that you’ve been argumentative and combative during team meetings, which is making them feel uncomfortable. This surprised me because this isn’t how you normally behave. I’d like to hear your side of the story and offer my support in finding a resolution so everyone in the office feels comfortable and productive.

    Employee feedback FAQs

    Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding employee feedback:


    When should I give employee feedback?

    Employees should receive feedback after a significant presentation or work product submission and at regular intervals throughout the year. Providing feedback after a significant work event can help the employee immediately improve and recognize areas of strength related directly to the skills necessary for the event. Regular feedback, sometimes called an employee evaluation, allows managers and employees to reflect together on the employee’s overall job performance.


    Why should I give employee feedback?

    Employee feedback serves several purposes. First, it allows managers to foster relationships and rapport with their employees. Second, it provides employees with valuable information about their work performance and product. Third, it demonstrates to the employee that their work is seen and valued.


    Well-executed feedback should improve an employee’s work performance over the long term, which will lead to continued company success.


    Should I give group feedback?

    Generally, feedback should be provided one-on-one, particularly if it’s constructive feedback. However, if you’re giving feedback on a work product created by a team and you’re not sure how to divide the feedback, a team feedback meeting may be necessary. In this case, try to give constructive criticism to the group as a whole rather than individually.


    What is employee self-feedback?

    Employee self-feedback, also referred to as a self-evaluation, is a practice that allows employees to exercise self-awareness by documenting their strengths and weaknesses at work. Employee self-evaluations are submitted to employers via email or written documents, and employees are required to honestly address both positive achievements and areas that could use improvement. Employers who utilize the self-evaluation practice usually require employees to submit evaluations at least once a year.


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