Giving Feedback to Team Members: Three Schools of Thought

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Providing employees with feedback, whether positive or constructive can be perceived as a delicate task by employers, however, many employees might prefer more feedback versus none. Learn about the importance of feedback in the workplace and a few effective tips to provide feedback to your employees.


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Why is giving feedback important in the workplace?

It is important to give feedback in the workplace as it can help correct errors and thus improve the overall efficiency of the workplace. Feedback can also act as a powerful motivator for employees to improve their performance or continue performing well. 

Providing constructive feedback allows for employees to identify those areas that they need to improve in their current position and carry those improvements with them throughout their career.


Related: How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation


Three types of effective feedback 

There are multiple reasons why you might give feedback to your employees. Here are three types of feedback that you can provide to them depending on the situation.


  • Appreciation feedback: This type of feedback is positive, and used to acknowledge an employee’s hard work or notable contribution to a project, department or company goals. You should note the specific element that they performed well so that they can repeat this in the future. Appreciation feedback is a great way to create trusting relationships between an employer and employee while also allowing an employee to feel valued in their job position. 
  • Evaluation feedback: Evaluation feedback is used to rate an employee’s performance. It is often used in a constructive way to provide employees with areas for improvement to maximize their work ethic and job accuracy.
  • Coaching feedback: This type of feedback incorporates elements of appreciation and evaluation feedback. Offering both positive affirmations and constructive critiques on an employee’s progress.

Related: How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan


Best practices for providing effective feedback

This section reviews the methods you can use to provide effective feedback to your employees.


  • Clarify the purpose of your feedback first
  • Ask permission to provide feedback
  • Discuss how the action affected the company
  • Allow a moment for the recipient to process the feedback
  • Don’t wait for the performance review
  • Focus on the ‘what,’ not on the ‘who’
  • Ask your employees for feedback about your performance
  • Offer positive solutions for improvement
  • Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’
  • Always give constructive feedback in a private setting


Clarify the purpose of your feedback first

Before you provide your employees with feedback, whether it be positive or constructive in nature, you should state the reason why you are giving them feedback. This can help them better understand the direct reasoning for your comments and can determine whether or not they repeat their actions in future situations.


Ask permission to provide feedback

By asking for permission to give feedback, you are approaching the situation in a more respectful manner and providing your employees with a sense of control.


Discuss how the action affected the company

Whether you are giving praise or providing a critique, you should make sure to highlight the resulting effects that an employee’s actions had on your company’s productivity. This can be helpful in their understanding of how their actions affect the company as a whole.


Allow a moment for the recipient to process the feedback

After you provide constructive feedback you should pause to let your employees process the conversation and ask questions.


Don’t wait for the performance review

You should be continuously providing feedback to your employees on a weekly or monthly basis. This can help an employee improve throughout the year leading up to the performance review, and therefore increase productivity.


Focus on the ‘what,’ not on the ‘who’

When giving constructive feedback, it might be helpful to focus on the actions of your employees rather than themselves. For example, discussing the discrepancies in a marketing report, rather than discussing how your employee made those discrepancies can keep from offending them or making them feel attacked.


Ask your employees for feedback about your performance

In order to provide effective feedback to your employees, there should be a level of trust and respect that is already established. By asking your employees for feedback on your performance in a managerial role, you are demonstrating that you value their input and do not consider yourself above critique. 


Offer positive solutions for improvement

It is important to end your meeting in a positive way when giving constructive feedback to promote a forward-looking mentality in your employee. This is helpful in acknowledging areas for improvement while also looking to move forward and evolve from it.


Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’

By saying ‘I’ve noticed some inconsistencies,’ instead of ‘you’ve been inconsistent,’ you are deflecting away from the subject of your critique and focusing on how you have been affected by it. This can be helpful in preventing your employees from feeling attacked.


Always give constructive feedback in a private setting

Whereas positive feedback might be welcomed in a more public setting, you should always have an employee meet with you in a private space when you plan to give them constructive feedback. This can not only prevent your employee from feeling embarrassed in front of coworkers but it can also be a way to maintain their trust as you are demonstrating a level of respect in being discreet.


Related: Self Evaluation Examples and Tips


Frequently asked questions about giving feedback

Here are some additional questions to be answered about giving feedback.


How can you improve your feedback methods?

You can improve the way you provide feedback and how often, by implementing routine check-ins with your employees. This can push you to start providing positive and constructive feedback on a more routine basis. 


What sort of events or actions constitute giving feedback?

There are multiple areas in which you can provide both positive and constructive feedback to your employees. Consider these events and actions as being justifiable for giving feedback:


  • When an employee gives a great marketing presentation
  • After an employee helps bring in 20 new clients
  • If an employee continually contributes to a positive work environment
  • When an employee’s miscommunication creates a halt in productivity
  • If an employee is being uncivil to a coworker
  • If an employee has been consistently late
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