How to Give Feedback Effectively (With Examples Included)
Updated 13 January 2023
Whether you're a manager or an entry-level employee, being able to give effective feedback can be an essential skill to have in the workplace. Through feedback, you can help your colleagues and team members improve the quality of their work. Understanding how to give feedback can help you give others actionable advice in the workplace. In this article, we explain why knowing how to give feedback is important and share steps to help you get started.
How to give feedback
Below is a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to give feedback:
1. Know why you're giving feedback
It's a good idea to be clear on exactly what you intend to achieve by giving feedback. For annual or quarterly meetings, for example, consider specifically what you would like the person to work on before the next meeting. When you know what you want each person to get out of the feedback, you are better able to lead the conversation in that direction.
2. Plan the timing
When giving feedback, it's important to consider the timing. If you notice someone make an error or do something especially well, you can acknowledge it immediately. This way, your feedback will be fresh in their mind, and they can make changes to their performance or be encouraged to keep up the good work.
3. Create a routine
If you're in a leadership position, you can schedule regular performance reviews for your team. Many companies choose to do this on a quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Having this feedback scheduled ensures that everyone gets a chance to discuss their performance in detail. This is a good time to give raises, offer promotions or set goals.
4. Frame the feedback with an invitation
Before giving constructive criticism, it's a good idea to prepare your recipient for the meeting. Doing this allows them to get in the right mindset for your discussion. If you're going to give them feedback in person, consider sending them an email or direct message first. If you want to give someone praise, you may not necessarily need to preface it with an invitation, though you may want to if you want to discuss your praise in detail.
5. Prepare the feedback
Before giving your recipient feedback, it can be helpful to take some time to plan what you want to say. You can use a notebook to write some bullet points outlining the main points. If you're giving feedback on areas to improve, consider providing actionable steps to help your team member achieve this. If you're giving positive feedback, you may like to think about which specific skills or accomplishments of theirs you admire.
6. Make it personal
Consider the person receiving the feedback when you're thinking about how you want to present your points. When you work with someone, you get to see what motivates and discourages them. You can take advantage of personal indicators to phrase or frame your feedback in an individualised and appropriate way.
7. Say what you mean
Try putting your feedback in the simplest possible terms and consider practising what you're going to say. Being straightforward and honest can help you avoid misunderstandings and build trust. It helps to be specific about an incident or behaviour, whether positive or negative. When someone knows that a specific action is helpful or unhelpful, they can change their behaviour more easily.
8. Put the feedback in context
You can show how your feedback fits in with larger personal and organisation-wide goals. This helps people understand the reasoning behind the feedback. Seeing the results of the action or issue can also help motivate people to take the feedback seriously and be proactive in preventing similar shortcomings in the future.
9. Give specific examples
It's a good idea to explain your points about a person's performance in a way that they can measure and act upon. By providing specific examples when you offer feedback, the person receiving it has a better idea of what to improve on and how.
Example: ‘Our team met the new sales goal this quarter for the second time in a row. The number of new customer phone sales that you made during this time is excellent and we'd like to thank you for your contribution. We also want to encourage you to maintain this momentum. If you keep your sales figures consistently high, I believe it would be feasible for you to achieve a 20% increase in sales in this financial year.’
10. Keep your feedback balanced
Mixing positive and corrective feedback can make constructive criticism easier for people to accept. A technique that helps with this is to consider the feedback from the recipient's perspective. Recognising success can be a powerful motivator, as can hearing specific things to improve, but they're often most effective when used together.
11. Make feedback a conversation
Active listening can help feedback to make more of an impact. As you give feedback, you can allow time for the person to ask any questions they may have. When people have opportunities to explain or talk about their performance, they may feel more involved and willing to take responsibility for their actions and successes. For example:
How can I help you to improve your sales stats for the next quarter?
Is this a fair representation of what happened at that meeting, or do you have a different perspective?
What would you like to share about my performance?
12. Create a feedback-friendly environment
When you make feedback a normal part of an organisation's operations, receiving feedback can become less stressful and creates a more transparent work environment. As you invite others to receive feedback, you can also encourage them to ask for feedback. You may like to research healthy ways to process feedback and share them with your team. You can also consider adding different forms of feedback to your company's processes, like a 360-degree feedback process or a weekly survey.
13. Evaluate the effects of your feedback
Giving feedback is a skill and can improve with practice as you see what works and what doesn't. Revisiting the topic after giving feedback can help you understand your own proficiency at giving feedback and gauge how effective it was for the receiver. Keeping records of individual goals and feedback meetings can make it easier to track progress and changes.
Positive feedback example
Here is an example of positive feedback you might give:
‘Hi, Jane. I just wanted to thank you for the extra effort you've been making lately. Our team really appreciates the extra time you've put into your projects. Your work has made all of our jobs easier, and the client is really happy with the results. Due to your success on this project, I suggest you apply for the management position at our firm. I think this promotion would be an excellent opportunity for you, and I could give you a good referral.’
Negative feedback example
Here is an example of negative feedback you might give to help someone improve:
'Hi, Steve. I'm hoping we can arrange a time to meet up and discuss your recent performance. I've noticed that you've been coming in to work late and leaving early. Is there anything you'd like to tell me that might help me understand what's happening? If there's isn't anything particular that you need to tell me about, I'd like us to sit down and create a plan to help you manage your time better, as we love having you on the team.'
Why is knowing how to give feedback important?
Knowing how to give feedback can be important for the following reasons:
Improves productivity: When your colleagues know what skills they can improve, they can enhance their performance in the workplace. If a member of your team often misses deadlines, you might offer them feedback to improve their time-management skills.
Boosts morale: Giving your team members positive feedback can be just as important as giving constructive criticism. By identifying others' strengths, you can help them feel more confident in their work, which can promote higher morale and job satisfaction.
Facilitates communication: Rather than assuming someone may notice their own shortcomings or strengths, feedback gives you the chance to communicate these things. You can also create open communication by asking others for their feedback about your performance.
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