How to Give Better Feedback to Employees


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Feedback plays an important role in employee happiness, which is why this is something you need to prioritize if you want to keep staff engaged. That said, if it’s not done right, feedback can actually have a negative impact on the individual and the company.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Give Better Feedback to Employees

When it comes to giving feedback, it can be tricky to know what works and what doesn’t. So how do you perfect the art of giving great feedback? In this guide, we’ll take a look at the importance of meeting with employees regularly and providing them with constructive and actionable objectives.

Why is it so important to provide feedback?

How are employees supposed to know how they're doing if they're never told? Feedback helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses and allows them to set goals they can work towards. It’s also important that each employee feels like part of the team and understands how they are contributing to the overall success of the company. This can be done through useful, constructive feedback, which is why it’s such an important part of employee development, retention and management.

But what if it’s bad feedback?

It’s important to remember that feedback isn't always going to be positive and that’s OK, negative feedback can be just as important to both parties. Letting staff know where they’ve gone wrong can help them get back on track and improve in the future. That is, of course, providing you deliver the feedback effectively. When giving negative feedback it’s important that you don't just give them a list of problems, instead you need to offer solutions and simple steps they can take to get back on track. 

6 ways to give better feedback

Whether you're giving good or bad feedback, you need to be able to deliver it effectively and do it in a professional and constructive way. Below we’ll look at six ways you can give better feedback, and areas where your organization needs to improve when it comes to providing staff with feedback and a development plan.

1. Be specific

The only thing worse than no feedback, is vague, useless feedback. As such, you need to make sure you're being as specific as possible. Don’t dance around the subject (even if you're nervous about giving criticism) or leave any room for miscommunication. Make detailed notes before your meeting to keep you on track and ensure you say exactly what you mean.

2. Make it useful and actionable

Whatever feedback you give, you need to make sure that your employee leaves with useful, actionable steps that can help them improve - even if what you’ve said has been largely positive. It’s not enough to simply tell them their strengths and/or weakness, you need to tell them what they can do to progress and take it to the next level, setting out clear objectives that you can review next time you meet with them.

3. Focus on the positives

Perhaps you're getting frustrated with an employee who’s falling behind, not reaching targets or just seems to have lost their passion for the role - it happens in every company. In these cases, bombarding them with negative feedback isn't going to motivate them to do better, so make sure that even when you're giving negative feedback, it’s not criticism. Spin it into a positive and make this a chance for them to take charge of their own development, put objectives in place and focus on their development. Tell them how they can improve and what this can do for their future within the company.

4. Don’t make comparisons

No matter how tempting it may be, it’s important that you don’t compare employees. Doing so could cause tension between the workforce and suggest favoritism. Not to mention it can be extremely de-motivating. It’s OK to use examples of other people’s projects or teams that have been successful in recent months, as long as you're using these in a constructive way and not just making a direct comparison.

5. Let them give feedback too

Feedback is not a one-way street. There might be a good reason why your staff are struggling to stay motivated or why they’re unable to do their job to the best of their ability. You need to treat these meetings as a chance for them to provide feedback as well, to tell you about any improvements they think the company could make to better support both them and their colleagues. For example, they might need more up-to-date software to help them in their role, or perhaps their workload has increased significantly and they're feeling overwhelmed.

Give them a chance to share their thoughts, and be sure to listen carefully and take note. This proves to them that the company has their best interests in mind and wants to create the best possible work environment to support them.

6. Give regular feedback

Meeting annually to tell staff how they're doing isn’t enough. So much can happen in the workplace in just a week, so it’s best to meet for feedback at least once a month, or more often if possible. These don’t always have to be long meetings, just a quick catch up can do the trick, but it allows you to keep on top of how your employees are doing, set realistic dates for their objectives and see if they're on track to reach their targets. Again, this shows staff that the company cares about them and is truly invested in their career development.

Are you ready to give great feedback?

Feedback is important to both employees and the organization, and meeting with staff regularly to provide constructive feedback and actionable objectives is key. This is what keeps organizations innovating and driving forward. It also keeps staff engaged and passionate about their career and your company.

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