Here we provide some tips on how to deliver employee feedback in ways that are constructive and helpful to employees and managers with constructive feedback examples.
We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.
When working in a management position, it is important to know how to deliver feedback to employees. Not only does this help your employees with their job performance, but it can also show your employees that you are invested in their growth and development at work when delivered correctly. It is important to develop some strategies for delivering criticism.
Employee feedback can be a source of dread for many managers and employees. Employees may dread having to listen to canned feedback that feels irrelevant to them. Managers may be dreading confrontational employees or a negative reception to some much-needed feedback. However, there are ways to overcome this awkwardness.
Finding ways to deliver feedback appropriately can be a tricky aspect of management. You want to be firm and fair, especially when delivering a performance review that is less than stellar for the employee. You and your employees must be on the same page about why job performance reviews and feedback are important to the job.
Why is Employee Feedback Important?
Before giving employee feedback or a performance review, it is important to know why employee feedback and reviews are done. Once you and your employees are on the same page about why feedback is done, it is easier to develop ways to deliver beneficial feedback.
It can be tempting to frame feedback for the personal benefit of the employee. After all, who doesn’t want to be better at their job? This can have drawbacks though. Job feedback can be good for personal development, giving feedback is a part of the job for managers. It is impossible to manage people without delivering some sort of feedback.
The key to giving feedback that employees are willing to hear is making it consistent across the board. If an employee does a project incorrectly, they will naturally need feedback on their work. However, if an employee does a brilliant job on the project, they should receive feedback on what they did right, as well. This makes feedback less daunting, and more natural within your organization.
Giving employees positive feedback sends the message that they’re being appreciated, and the company is recognizing their hard work and skill. It’s also a great way to build a positive employee-manager relationship.
Some examples of positive feedback would look like, “Your ability to work with people you don’t always get along with is one of your biggest strengths,” and “I want you to know that I appreciate the effort you went through to make sure our clients got the materials they needed.” A little can go a long way.
Giving feedback is not just for the benefit of the employee– it is important to do as a manager, as it ultimately helps your company’s success. When employees are told how they can improve and what behavior is correct, they become better workers, and better contributors to the organization.
Instant Feedback vs Performance Reviews
Another crucial aspect of employee feedback is knowing when to deliver feedback. Typically, feedback is a part of a planned performance review. Commonly, these are conducted annually or quarterly.
Many different corporations have seen success in delivering instant feedback. Unlike feedback that an employee might receive in a performance review, which addresses longer-term, more generalized improvements, instant feedback is given as often as necessary throughout the quarter in order to correct smaller mistakes that impact the quality of everyday work.
Instant feedback can be a way to build up company culture. It shows that you are always paying attention to what your employees are doing, and feedback is not limited to just sit-down scheduled performance review times. It shows that you care about your employees and are looking for ways to congratulate them on a job well done, as well as ways they can improve their performance.
Performance reviews still have their place. For general feedback, employee performance reviews can be useful. You will still want to include specific examples and have a conversation during the review process. Performance reviews can also be a great way to incorporate all of the instant feedback the employee has received since the last performance review into one cumulative performance review.
Ways to Deliver Feedback
Delivering feedback can be stressful for both the person receiving the feedback and for the person receiving it. Coming up with strategies can help make this process less stressful for everyone involved. These strategies can help set expectations of what reviews and feedback look like and what the results will be.
1. Give Specific Examples
Managers typically don’t like to give specific examples because they don’t want employees to feel like they’re constantly under a microscope. However, laying out specific examples shows that you have been paying attention and that your feedback is rooted in reality. Examples should be given for both positive and negative feedback.
When giving positive feedback, be sure to give examples of the impact that the employee had with their actions. This can help employees feel appreciated in their role. If employees don’t feel appreciated, it’s possible that they might choose to leave their job.
Some manager feedback examples could be, “I noticed at the meeting with the prospective client, you didn’t have all the information prepared you normally do have ready. What was happening behind the scenes this time around?” or “I appreciate the detail you included in the write-up for the client in last week’s report.” By providing examples it is also more conducive to honest conversation when seeking a change in behavior.
2. Timing is Everything
When delivering feedback, whether positive or negative, timing is key. It is best to deliver feedback when the event is fresh in everyone’s mind. Doing this, will increase engagement with your employees. It also avoids recency bias, which can occur with planned performance reviews, and makes it easier to track what an employee is doing.
This will also allow the employee to work on bad habits and gives you both the chance to work on solutions together. If feedback is positive, it shows that you are paying attention to what’s going on in the office and it will reinforce desirable behavior.
A caveat to instant feedback is to not provide feedback when you are emotional, particularly when you’re upset. If an employee has done something that makes you feel particularly mad or frustrated, it is best to calm down and give feedback when you can be more objective. Not only will you avoid saying something you could regret, but your employee will be more likely to take in what you’re saying to heart.
The best way to do this is by saying something like, “On Monday you really took the lead on the group meeting with the clients and I wanted to compliment you for that” rather than “You have been taking charge lately.”
3. Ditch the Compliment Sandwich
For years, the compliment sandwich was a way to provide constructive employee feedback without coming across as overly negative. By putting a constructive critique between two positive critiques, managers thought that their criticism would not seem so harsh. Turns out, the compliment sandwich can be more confusing than helpful.
It also makes employees less likely to trust the positive reviews because they think that they are just there to pad the constructive critique. By getting to the point and discussing the real issue at hand, you and your employee can spend more time on the real problems.
Most employees prefer when their managers are to the point and know what they are talking about, even when the critique is negative. It helps to keep the focus of the meeting clear and allows the employee and manager to work together.
Instead of saying something along the lines of “You’re good at transcribing minutes but need improvement on focus. And you’re also good at dealing with customers,” it’s best to focus on the most important part of the meeting. Try something like, “I noticed in this morning’s minutes that there were quite a few missing details from Alex’s presentation. That made it tough for Omar and me to put the plan together. Can we make a strategy so all the meeting transcriptions are complete next time?” Strive to be straightforward with constructive feedback.
4. Keep it Private
Employee feedback is best delivered privately, even when the feedback is positive. Some people are uncomfortable with public praise, and negative feedback is always best delivered without an audience.
Delivering public feedback can also create resentment and create tension in the office. Even something as simple as, “You’re taking a long time to get the copier set up” can create awkwardness in the office.
People who send feedback via email might believe that this is the best way to be straightforward as well as private. However, emails can be misinterpreted and can create a cold environment. It is best to do it in person, away from prying eyes and ears.
An exception to this rule would be 360-degree feedback. This is a type of performance review that draws feedback from a self-assessment, a manager’s review, as well as peer reviews. This allows managers and employees to consider performance from different perspectives.
5. Make it a Conversation
By having a conversation with your employee while giving feedback, it builds the relationship between manager and employee and gives the employee control over the feedback. Don’t just take control of the conversation and dictate where it will go. Allow the employee to talk as well.
To start with constructive employee feedback, it’s best to make sure that the employee knows what you are talking about and that you’re on the same page about what the potential problem is. Then, work together to find a potential solution.
An example of employee feedback in a conversation could look like:
“I’ve noticed that you have been more distracted at work lately. Have you noticed this as well?” This is also a good time to give examples of what the problem at hand looks like. Especially if the employee disagrees about the problem. “I noticed you space out a few times on the sales floor this afternoon and miss a customer with a question. That’s unusual – what’s up?”
Once the two of you agree about the problem existing, it is also helpful to discuss if there is a reason for this problem occurring. This can be useful in determining a solution as well. Once the two of you have talked about potential solutions, set a goal for future meetings.
The importance of having an open conversation is not to lay blame on anyone but to understand both sides and work together to find a solution. Positive results do not come from negative interactions. It is important to be open-minded and, in some instances, let your employees take the lead.
Constructively delivering employee feedback is an art that needs some practice to be effective. Expect it to take time to find the feedback methods that work best for you and your employees.
Once you have found the best method for your business, and the feedback that you give is consistently helpful and constructive, you will notice that employees are more willing to work with you and trust what you have to say.
It is also important to remember that there is always room for improvement. Whether with the employee’s performance or with the feedback method, improvement should always be the end goal.
Profit.co’s Performance Management
Profit.co’s performance management module allows HR administrators and managers to conduct customizable, detailed, and efficient performance reviews that work for both reviewers and reviewed employees.
Profit.co supports two types of performance reviews– standard reviews, and affinity-based reviews.
Standard reviews– also called conversation and feedback reviews– allow HR administrators to customize a collection of open-ended questions answered by both managers and reviewed employees.
This not only gives employees ample opportunity to voice their opinion on their performance and perspective, but also allows managers to review their answers and dedicate time and attention towards crafting responses. This written component usually precedes a one-on-one meeting. This process allows managers to have more time to meditate on the feedback they would like to give their employees to ensure they deliver both positive feedback and constructive criticism.
Affinity-based reviews are reliant on competency rating scales to help quantify employee skills and attributes.
This type of review is commonly used when conducting a 360-degree review that includes peer reviewers. Managers can derive both quantitative and qualitative information from this review, as well as hear the perspective of the reviewed employee and their peers. Managers can add a comment on each competency rating and give specific examples about employee performance, making this method of performance review a viable option when offering detailed feedback.