How to Give Feedback to Employees


Employee feedback is a mirror which helps the employee to know what they are supposed to do, where they are heading towards and how near they are to reaching their goals.

Giving feedback to the employees is certainly not an easy task, but a sensitive one which if not done properly may develop resentment in employees and may break things down. 

A feedback done thoughtfully, solicitously and with best of the objectives works as motivation boosting factor and results in increased productivity of the employees, and of the whole company.

So, how can one make their feedback effective and constructive? Given below are some points that an employer can stick to if they are looking forward to give feedback to their employees.

State the constructive purpose

When the employee receives your feedback, he should recognize at a glance what the feedback is about. Therefore, it is a good idea to start the feedback by stating in brief the things you are going to cover in the conversation ahead.

Example: Hey John, here’s your performance report for this week.

Always start with a compliment

It is mentally challenging for anyone to receive negative comments, and when it is the first thing to receive, it leaves an even deeper impression. In fact, people get stuck at their weaknesses and no words that follow can affect him no matter how good they are. So, when you have some negative points to pass on, remember to start with a compliment.

Example: You have been a good performer but your performance this week….

Avoid hold-ups


SAY what you have to SOLVE. Issues which are not discussed are the ones that multiply. Yet, don’t wait for the quarterly performance review to come around.

As time passes, memory fades and people are more likely to construe the situation differently. Thus, it is better to give review daily or weekly, as for the employers can easily track and analyze their employee’s performance and employees will know their right and wrong conducts straightaway.

Choose the right moment

Generally, feedbacks are more effective when given immediately after the action. However, this is not a good idea when either of the feedback giving or receiving party’s emotions is running high.

Emotions get in the way of effective communication and what the receiver perceives may be completely different than what you actually intended to say. Therefore, give yourself as well as the recipient some time to calm down before proceeding towards feedback giving process.

Be specific

For a feedback to be effective, it must be understandable, and it is possible only when you avoid vague generalities. Also, employees are more likely to respond better to specific feedback as they know exactly what you are wanting from them.

Example: “I would like to hear at least one outlook from you in every meeting we move in together” is more specific and explicit than “I expect you to talk more in meetings”.

Speak out your mind (not other’s)

Feedback must be based on facts and not random. You must only speak out things that you have personally observed, rather than things that were told to you by some others.

Example: This morning, when you were speaking with our client on the phone, I noticed that your voice was constantly rising. I would like to know….

Describe your reaction

Every action has its reaction. Giving feedback about the reactions or consequences of specific actions of employees helps them in understanding the impact (positive or negative) they have on other members or the whole organization. 

Example: The co-member looked mortified and I along with other co-workers felt awkward about the scene. Ranting at colleagues is not a conventional behavior in this office.

Make it one-on-one


Feedbacks are supposed to be one-on-one because it becomes easier for you to say things clearly. Also, no one likes  to get criticized publicly.

You can take your employee for an informal walk or for a coffee at any local café when you want to avoid being too confrontational.

Connect your feedback to the company’s goal

Employees become more focused on their duty when they realize their contributions are actually making a difference in the company’s goal.

Example: We’ve been assigning everyone a weekly goal that should be completed by the week, i.e. (Mon-Fri). We're very close to reaching our goals and feel this push will bring us even closer. So, we urge everyone in the team to apprehend this new step and move forward towards achieving the goals assigned.

Stay focused on performance, not personality

Employee’s performance must be the base of feedback, not personality because it is acceptable for employees to be criticized about their performance than personal traits.

Example: “When you arrive late at the office, it causes hurdle to…” is more acceptable than “Your ignorance is causing hurdle.”

Focus on individual efforts

When you are looking forward to congratulate a group of your employees on their achievement, make sure you reach out to individual group members, focusing on efforts they have made from their personal side.

Feedbacks should be firsthand

It is very important that you give your feedback straight to the person it applies to. What usually happens is, we are afraid of confrontation, as a result when our expectations are not met we grumble to others.

Again, when the expectations are met, we assume the employee already knows that, as a result we once again tell others.

Remember! It is the person who acts, not his colleagues, co-workers or managers, who need to hear what you expect and appreciate.

Don’t stockpile negative feedbacks

Research has found that employee’s response to the negative comments is six times stronger than to the positive ones. It has been also found that negative feedbacks on regular basis have destructive impact on employees.

So whenever you have to give negative feedback to your employees, forget not to mention some positive comments. Yet, don’t let the positive comments kill the purpose of your feedback.

Don’t create the sandwich


In the past, employers were advised to sandwich negative comments between the positive ones to reduce the harshness.

However, at present, it has been recognized that formulating negative comment in this way decreases the value or sincerity of the positive comments. Also, it develops a mentality in employees that positive comments are always followed by the negative.

Use the 3X3 method

The 3X3 method is probably a best way to give feedback to employees. Under this method, what you have to do is list out three strengths and three weakness (area of potential development) of your employees.

When given limited number of strengths and weaknesses, it is more likely that employees will remember all of them by heart, making it easier for them to focus on their area of correction and improvement.

Bother to uncover the root of the problem

It is always necessary for you to LISTEN before you SPEAK. Your feedback would be more effective and constructive when you know what the other person really thinks about the situation.

You can even ask some questions such as “How could we have met our goals in time?” and “What was your thought process while approaching the situation this way?” etc. that drive self-evaluation.

Fit the feedback to the person

Employees might be of different nature. Some may take it as a pride when praised in front of all while some might feel extremely uneasy. For some of your employees, a pat on the shoulder may work while some others may best respond to written feedbacks. So remember to evaluate your employee’s nature before you decide to give him feedback.

Don’t e-mail negative feedbacks

People who are afraid of being confrontational often use e-mail as the means of passing on negative feedback. This is completely wrong thing to do if you don’t want to be tagged a bad employer.

E-mails might be misinterpreted, leading to conflicts and fray in the company.

Set up schedules for follow-up conversations

As mentioned earlier, there are chances of e-mails being misinterpreted. Therefore, a face-to-face conversation after giving written feedback is a best way to eliminate such misunderstandings. Also, such conversations reduce the stress in employees caused due to negative feedbacks and motivate employees who need improvement.

Be future oriented

Making your feedback future oriented is really necessary. When your feedback is more past dwelling, it may result in defensive actions from the employees. But, future oriented feedbacks motivate them in moving forwards, staying more focused and positive.

Offer specific suggestions


“Constructive feedback is centered around development and coaching.”

It’s a great idea for you to include suggestions in feedback. When you give suggestions, employees won’t have to waste their time figuring out the ways to deal with their weaknesses.

Example: You can create a to-do list of the day in the first hour. It really helps me in reaching my daily goals.

Remember! Your way is not the ONLY WAY

A task can be solved in different ways. It might be 2+2=4 some while 3+1=4 for others. Whatever may be the approach, it is valuable in its own way unless correct results are withdrawn. Therefore, before you give feedback to your employees, make sure that it’s not your ego that speaking out.

Summarize and express your support

Once you are at the end of the conversation, you should review major points or objective of the conversation. However, its only actions item that need to be highlighted, not the negative comments. Positive comments help in increasing confidence too.

End on a positive note

Feedbacks are meant to improve the employees, not break them down.

When you end your feedback on a negative note, employees are more likely to forget any words of compliments and encouragements that you have mentioned earlier.

On the contrary, positive notes at the end are known to have more influence on people and on your relationship with them.

Example: I have faith that you will do better and use this feedback to your benefit.

Make feedbacks from recipient acceptable

It is essential for you to know what your employees have to say about the feedback given. So give them opportunity to express their opinion. This will help you in analyzing the effectiveness of the feedback you have given.

Example: “I look forward to know about your thoughts on this situation.” Or “What do you think?”