How to give employee feedback the right way

retail-team

Imagine the following scenario: you are the leader of an L&D team that has just launched a significant project. However, there’s a problem – the results are not what you expected, and now you have to communicate this to your team. So how can you pass on the news without demoralizing and demotivating your employees? This is a far more common problem in the business world than you might originally have thought.

Providing employees with effective feedback – that helps them to understand which parts of their professional approach are working and which aren’t – is vital to the growth of any company. However, a recent Gallup study found that, out of nearly 15,000 employees, only 16% could say that the last conversation they held with their manager was meaningful. This statistic highlights a critical problem in many organizations: namely, a lack of meaningful, constructive feedback. In this article we’ll explain how to give effective employee feedback, discover why it’s so important, and explore how you can build a feedback culture in your company.

What is effective employee feedback and why is it important?

Effective feedback is fundamentally a tool for growth, delivered in the form of focused reactions or comments made in response to a specific action. Through feedback, a supervisor can give a student or learner helpful information on what they have done well, what they have done badly, and how they can improve upon their efforts in pursuit of their objectives.

Although it may be difficult to believe, employees are actually eager to receive feedback from their managers – but crucially, this feedback should allow them to build their understanding and improve their abilities. Feedback is not simply about pointing out mistakes, but about providing constructive guidance that aids and encourages growth.

According to Factorial, many employees feel under-appreciated at work due to a lack of adequate feedback. When leaders provide this feedback, it not only helps employees to identify and work on weaknesses, but also opens up clear and honest communication channels, and increases employee satisfaction. As you can see, good feedback is something your employees expect, and giving it is a practice that could greatly benefit your organization. With that in mind, it’s time to learn how to provide effective employee feedback in your company.

Developing effective employee feedback: what should it look like?

According to Gallup research, the positive momentum generated by meaningful feedback can increase employee engagement by up to four times. But not all comments have the same value. In order for feedback to be considered effective, it should have the following characteristics:

  • Objective: Wherever possible, feedback should be based on concrete facts or data, rather than subjective opinions. This helps to avoid misunderstandings, and ensures that employees more clearly understand what is expected of them. For example, instead of vaguely telling an employee that they are not doing a very good job, it would be more constructive to say, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been able to consistently meet your deadlines over the past three weeks.”
  • Constructive: The objective of feedback should be to help employees improve, not simply to criticize for the sake of criticism. Therefore, it should focus chiefly on how future performance can be improved. A good example would be, “To improve your punctuality in meeting deadlines, we could try setting reminders on your calendar.”
  • Coherent: Consistency in feedback is crucial. For example, if punctuality is a key value within your company, then all employees (including leaders) should regularly highlight this value and demonstrate it.
  • Specific: General comments are not nearly as helpful as specific ones. Through detailed feedback, employees get a chance to learn exactly which behaviors they should retain, and which to change. Simply saying “good job” is not the same as saying “your presentation was excellent because it was clear, concise and well- structured.”
  • Proactive: Finally, feedback must be delivered at the right time to prevent smaller issues from becoming significant problems. Providing feedback on a regular basis, rather than holding out for annual reviews, can help employees to adjust their behavior on an ongoing basis. A good example might be, “I’ve noticed that your performance has decreased slightly this week – is there anything I can do to help you improve?”

Guidelines for giving and receiving effective feedback (with examples)

When giving employee feedback, it’s crucial not to focus solely on errors, as these can harm the stability and confidence of workers, and force your team into a defensive state. Just as important is how the feedback is delivered. A criticism will be better received if positive messages are used to convey it.

Giving good feedback and knowing how to properly receive it is not always easy. To achieve this, you’ll need to put into practice a set of behaviors that will help you communicate constructive, transformative messages. What are these behaviors? Let’s take a closer look:

1. Preparing well before giving feedback

Before providing feedback, it’s crucial to prepare properly. Take a look at the following tips:

  • Don’t wait until there is a problem to solve: The key to making the whole feedback process more effective is to turn it into a regular occurrence. This requires you to offer feedback even when there is not necessarily a problem or situation that can be improved upon. As a leader, get involved in the daily tasks of your employees, and offer helpful comments that highlight their strengths and successes throughout the process. Making feedback a daily activity reinforces motivation and good behaviors.
  • Gather sufficient information: Feedback shouldn’t be just a checklist of things the employee has done wrong. If you’re faced with an issue that requires corrective feedback, make sure you bring specific facts and examples to the table to support your claims. This not only helps to avoid misunderstandings, but ensures that employees better understand what is expected of them.
  • Choose an appropriate time and place: Recognizing the good performance of an employee or team in a public setting is a great way to motivate your workforce. In fact, 37% of employees would be happy to be praised for their good work in public. However, in order to make this practice constructive, you’ll need to do more than just congratulate employees publicly. Giving private feedback can also help you to avoid high-tension situations. In addition, it allows you to delve deeper into a topic with an employee, and gives you the space to create a strategy that helps them improve. 

Don’t forget to be punctual – if you have the results of a successful campaign in your hand, but wait several months until the annual review arrives to deliver the good news, then you’re likely allowing the ideal moment to pass. The sooner you give feedback on successful actions, the better, as this way you maximize their effect and ensure that your employees take the comments into account for future projects.

2. Techniques for giving effective feedback

In order to make your employee feedback both effective and well-received, consider the following techniques:

  • Start with positives: Create a favorable climate to the conversation by opening with a positive comment on your employees’ latest achievements. For example, “I’m very impressed with the design of your latest campaign” or “you are a great example for the team.” Then, allow the employee a pause to take in the information, before moving on to deliver constructive feedback phrases. Take care to avoid buts. An example might be: “I’m very impressed…. In fact, I think that for future campaigns we could also try…”
  • Be objective and specific: Telling an employee “good job, but you need to improve on your writing” is not as effective as saying “good job. I’ve left you some comments about the use of capital letters in the text.” The first comment is generic and potentially confusing, while the second is specific and directand will help the employee identify their errors more clearly.
  • Give practical advice: Provide specific suggestions and resources to help the employee improve in the desired areas. This will help employees feel more confident and demonstrate your interest in their growth. For example, “I’m going to share one of the tools that has helped me improve my writing with you. Let’s see if it works for you too.”
  • Listen: Last but not least, you should always listen to what your employees want to say. Remember that the goal of effective feedback is to help them improve their performance, not to demotivate or intimidate them. Feedback should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Actively listen to your employee’s responses, and show an open and receptive attitude. This not only demonstrates respect, but can also provide you with valuable information on how to improve processes within the work environment.

3. How to receive feedback constructively

Feedback works both ways, allowing employees to improve their performance and leaders and HR managers to improve their ability to lead. This is why it’s so important to listen to what your employees have to say, be sure not to interrupt them, and keep open to suggestions and ideas.

It’s also important to take care when delivering verbal responses and physical reactions. A raised tone of voice or a sudden change in your body language could send a negative message. Take time to reflect on what you’ve heard, think about the validity of the comments made, and don’t be hasty to make excuses. Keep in mind that knowing how to give and receive feedback from employees is one of the clearest and surest signs of leadership.

The benefits of effective employee feedback in the workplace

The consequences of failing to give feedback can be markedly negative, since employees will never know what to expect, will lack awareness of what criteria they’re being evaluated against, and simply won’t understand if they are doing their job well or poorly. Good feedback has a direct effect on the motivation, performance, and commitment of professionals, bringing about positive transformational change.

If the suggestions and comments you make do not drive towards improving employee performance, then your workers, while motivated, may fail to reach their true potential. Some benefits of giving constructive feedback include:

  • Strengthened teamwork

Effective feedback encourages open and honest communication between all team members. This nurtures an environment where each employee feels valued and heard, strengthening collaboration and shared work.

  • Improved results

Did you know that employees are 4.6 times more likely to perform better if they feel that their voices are being heard? Workers who receive clear and specific feedback can focus more intently on improving their skills and building their strengths. This leads to an increase in both quality of work and operational efficiency, producing a positive impact on the company’s results.

  • Reoriented behaviors

Through effective feedback, employees have the chance to identify behaviors that they need to change. This allows them to correct their course of action and align individual efforts with the wider company’s objectives.

  • Targeted goal-planning

Continuous feedback helps employees better understand the parameters of their roles and responsibilities. 80% of employees would prefer to receive immediate feedback on a task rather than have to wait for their annual performance review. Ongoing feedback helps with the setting of clear and achievable goals aligned with the company’s strategic objectives.

  • Well-structured teams

An environment where feedback is consistently valued contributes to the creation of more cohesive and resilient teams. Employees tend to feel part of a committed and focused unit, which reduces turnover rates and improves talent retention. In fact, companies that provide frequent feedback to their employees boast a 14.9% lower turnover rate than those that do not.

Tools to help you create a feedback culture in your company

Effective feedback has the ability to inform, correct, and motivate employees like no other communication tool. However, for many companies, especially those with remote or hybrid work models, it can be challenging to carry out this process properly. Some of the tools that can help you provide effective employee feedback include:

Training courses

Offering employees training programs that focus on improving communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence can help them develop the skills they need—both to offer and receive effective feedback and to help them grow. At the same time, it’s essential that leaders and managers also receive leadership training so they learn how to provide constructive and motivational feedback.

Digital apps and tools

Today there are various digital tools available that can help you with giving and receiving real-time feedback constructively. Apps for frontline workers, as well as onboarding apps, provide the ideal space to let you integrate feedback into multiple processes and open up clear lines of communication. They’re also perfect for employees who don’t have a desk.

Training management platforms

Learning management systems and e-learning platforms allow you to offer training courses that provide employees with effective and immediate feedback. These systems give workers access to training resources in a multitude of formats, such as videos, exercises and games – all featuring assessments and practical exercises. What’s more, these can be accessed anytime, anywhere, yielding instant feedback that can help them improve.

iseazy lms learning platform integral management

Here at isEazy, we understand the importance of employee feedback as a transformative tool – in fact, transformation is what our e-learning solutions are designed to help you achieve. Through our award-winning software, and wealth of interactive courses and e-learning resources, we help you accelerate the growth and success of your team. Discover our tools, and start enjoying the benefits today!

Frequently Asked Questions about employee feedback

Giving effective feedback to employees is crucial because it helps to improve their performance, motivates and engages them, and aligns their efforts with wider company goals. Clear, constructive feedback allows workers to understand where they are excelling as well as where they need to improve.

Best practices for giving effective feedback to employees include being specific, clear and timely, talking about the behavior rather than the person, maintaining balance in mixing positive and constructive feedback, and active listening.

It’s also important to reinforce the act of receiving feedback in a constructive way. To do this, we suggest that you listen carefully without interrupting, keep an open mind, ask for clarification if something is unclear, reflect before you respond and, finally, be sure to implement improvements.

Feedback provides multiple benefits to the workplace, including improved performance, increased motivation, enhanced communication and reduced employee turnover.

To achieve this, there are several best practices you can follow, such as leading by example, fostering a culture of openness and transparency, ensuring that you incorporate feedback into processes, training employees properly and, finally, recognizing and rewarding improvements based on the feedback given.

Elizabeth Aguiar Chacón

CONTENT CREATED BY:

Elizabeth Aguiar Chacón

Content Marketing Specialist at isEazy

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