Giving Feedback for 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, provide a process for giving feedback with best practices and answer 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. If management can give detailed examples of excellent work and areas for improvement, employees will be able to optimize their job performance. 

Related: Best Practices for Giving Constructive Feedback


A process for giving feedback to your 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:


  1. Identify the feedback
  2. Prepare notes
  3. Set a meeting
  4. Share feedback 
  5. End with a positive


1. Identify the feedback

Begin by identifying areas in which the employee is performing well and areas in which the employee can improve. Make a list of these. Do your best to balance constructive feedback with positive feedback. Make your feedback as specific as possible.


2. Prepare notes

Make notes of the order in which you would like to present the feedback. Notes will help you stay focused and ensure that you provide the employee with all the necessary information. An employee evaluation form can help you structure your notes. 


3. Set a meeting

Set 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 rather than a meeting in which you talk and the employee does not. 


4. 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 is free from emotion and stated clearly and factually. 


5. End with a positive

Conclude the feedback meeting with your last piece of positive feedback. Ending with a positive note will keep the employee’s morale high. 


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:


1. Feedback should be specific

The feedback, both constructive and positive, you provide for your employees should be specific. Vague comments will not help your employees improve. 


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


2. Feedback should be fixable

Give feedback that provides 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 rather than written reports to document your monthly sales" rather than "Make your sales easier to understand.


3. Feedback should be prompt

Give feedback as soon as possible. If you are providing feedback on a presentation or work product, set a meeting for a few days after the event. If you are 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 hear they are 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. 


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, is 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 is constructive feedback. However, if you are giving feedback on a work product created by a team, and you are 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 individuals.  


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