How to Give Effective Feedback

Delivering feedback effectively is a critical part of your job as a manager. Follow these guidelines to effectively and respectfully deliver feedback to your employees.

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Giving feedback to a direct report may feel intimidating, but when done right, feedback can actually build trust between you and your direct report. 

Your direct reports need to trust that you're willing to have critical conversations about their professional development, even when it may feel awkward. 

Holding off on sharing important feedback until it's too late can damage their trust in you. Especially if feedback is delayed to the point where it's too late for employees to take action.

As a manager, it's your job to address strengths and concerns in real-time, before an employee is surprised by a mediocre performance review.

Effective Feedback Best Practices

Be Clear About Areas for Improvement

Managers can fall into a trap while giving feedback where areas of opportunities are glossed over. 

While it's tempting to paint an overly positive image by focusing on positive feedback, it's essential to be explicit about any constructive criticism the employee has received.

Don't Forget to Share Positive Feedback 

Although it's important to highlight areas of improvement, it's also helpful to be clear on what the employee is doing well so they know what to continue doing and where their strengths lie. 

Provide Specific Examples of Improvement

It's important to help your employees act on the feedback they receive.

Brainstorm action items with your employee to create a plan for implementing the feedback into their workflow.

Focus on Performance, not Personality Traits

Effective feedback centers on what the employees does or could do, not who the employee is. 

Be wary of passing on feedback that focuses on who the employee is.

Clarify if a Growth Area is Fundamental to the Employee's Performance

Be clear when feedback is purely a growth opportunity or when it's critical to their performance in their current role. Additionally, clarify if there's an opportunity to develop a skill to help them reach the next level in their career.

Your employee needs to know if something is impeding them from succeeding in their current role so they can prioritize actions on those items. 

Be Mindful of When & Where You Deliver Feedback

As a general rule, deliver feedback in private. 

If you have reason to believe that the conversation may be difficult, be careful to avoid situations where the employee's peers can overhear the conversation. Whenever possible, accommodate the employee's needs, e.g. asking to meet at the end of the day so the employee can process the feedback away from the office.

Check for Understanding

Confirm that your direct report understands what you're saying by engaging them in the conversation. What is their initial reaction to the feedback? Do they have any follow-up questions? Does this information surprise them?

Make it a point to ask follow-up questions towards the end of the conversation.