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How To Give Feedback To Employees: Examples For Positive Results

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    Karen had noticed that her employee, Jake, had been increasingly rude in his email communication with colleagues and clients. She knew she needed to give him feedback but was hesitant to do so. Over time, Jake’s behavior worsened, and Karen’s hesitation turned into frustration. When she finally spoke to him, it was too late. Jake’s reputation had already been damaged among his coworkers and clients, leading to a loss of important business opportunities.

    Feedback is an essential tool for managers and leaders to help employees grow and improve their performance. However, many managers like Karen find it difficult to give feedback, and employees can often react negatively to it. In this article, we will discuss why it is difficult to give feedback, how to positively frame feedback, how to give feedback constructively, and provide examples of how to give feedback to employees, bosses, managers, and peers.

    Why It Is Difficult To Give Feedback

    One reason why people avoid giving feedback is a lack of training or experience. Many managers and leaders may have the technical skills necessary to manage a team or project. However, may not have received training on how to effectively communicate feedback. This can make the process of giving feedback seem daunting and uncomfortable to us.

    Another reason why people avoid giving feedback is a fear of confrontation. They may worry that the employee will become defensive, argumentative, or even hostile in response to criticism.

    However, it is important to give feedback, especially when an employee’s behavior is severe and affecting the performance of the group. Ignoring issues can lead to resentment among team members, decreased morale, and even missed business opportunities. By providing constructive feedback, managers and leaders can address issues before they become bigger problems, and help employees grow and improve their performance.

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    How To Positively Frame Feedback

    The way feedback is framed can greatly impact how it is received by the employee. Using the word “feedback” can have negative connotations, so it may be helpful to frame it as “advice” instead. By doing so, the employee may be more likely to accept it as a helpful suggestion rather than a criticism.

    There are other strategies that can help positively frame feedback as well. One such strategy is to start with positive feedback before addressing any areas for improvement. This can help build rapport with the employee and make them more receptive to the feedback. For example, a manager might begin a feedback session with a statement like, “You’ve been doing a great job with X project, and I wanted to share some suggestions for how we could improve it even further.”

    Another strategy for positively framing feedback is to focus on the behavior or action, rather than the person. Instead of saying, “You’re doing this wrong,” try saying, “When you do X, it could be more effective if you tried Y.” This helps to avoid putting the employee on the defensive and makes it clear that the feedback is about improving the behavior, not criticizing the person.

    How To Give Feedback Constructively

    Before giving feedback, it is important to build a relationship with the employee. This will help to create an environment of trust and respect, making the employee more receptive to the feedback. This can be achieved by finding common ground, establishing a friendly tone, and showing genuine interest in the employee’s work.

    It is important to practice giving feedback out loud before giving it to the employee. This will help you to refine your message and ensure that it is delivered in a clear and concise manner. It is important to be specific when giving feedback. Use examples of specific behaviors and situations to illustrate your point. This will help the employee understand what they need to do differently.

    Also, anticipate rebuttals and denials when giving feedback. Be prepared to answer questions and provide evidence to support your feedback. Try to remain calm and objective. Avoid getting defensive and stay confident in your statements. Instead, offer solutions or suggestions for improvement. This will help the employee to understand how to improve their performance and feel more empowered to make changes.

    Two women in a blue suit and red blouse talking around a red couch at work.

    How To Give Feedback To Employees

    For routine issues that are easy to fix, any approach may work. However, for more serious issues, it is crucial to prepare talking points and avoid getting bogged down in specifics. Instead, keep the discussion focused on high-level points and use the analogy of flight altitudes to bring the conversation back to a broader perspective.

    When giving feedback to employees, it is important to start the conversation with a positive note. This can help set the tone for a constructive conversation and make the employee more receptive to feedback. Be specific about the behavior that needs improvement and provide examples that illustrate the impact of the behavior on the team or the company. Make sure to use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory and to convey your own perspective on the issue.

    It is also important to give the employee an opportunity to respond and share their own perspective on the issue. Encourage the employee to provide their own ideas for how they can improve and collaborate with them to develop a plan for moving forward. It may also be helpful to schedule a follow-up conversation to check on progress and provide additional feedback or support as needed. Remember to provide positive feedback when progress is made and to acknowledge the employee’s efforts towards improvement.

    How To Give Feedback To Your Boss Or Manager

    Giving feedback to a superior can be challenging, but it is important to be honest and respectful. It may be helpful to schedule a time to talk privately, prepare talking points, and provide specific examples to support your feedback.

    Approach the conversation in a respectful and constructive manner. Begin by expressing your appreciation for the manager’s time and attention. Emphasize that your feedback is intended to improve your own performance and contribute to the success of the team or organization. Be sure to listen carefully to the manager’s responses. Be open to their feedback as well. Remember that the goal of the conversation is to foster positive change, not to create conflict or tension.

    How To Give Feedback To Peers

    Giving feedback to a peer can be difficult, especially if you do not have direct authority over them. It is important to focus on specific behaviors and offer suggestions for improvement in a respectful manner.

    It may be helpful to frame the conversation as a collaborative effort to improve both of your work. This can help establish a sense of teamwork and mutual respect, rather than a power dynamic of one person giving orders to the other. Additionally, it is important to listen actively to the peer’s perspective and be open to their feedback as well. By having an open and respectful dialogue, you can create a positive and constructive feedback loop that can benefit both parties.


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    Why It Is Important For Managers To Know How to Give Effective Feedback

    Effective feedback is essential for promoting employee growth and improving performance. It can help increase employee engagement and job satisfaction, and ultimately lead to better business outcomes. Managers who know how to give effective feedback can foster a culture of continuous improvement and help their employees reach their full potential.

    Giving effective feedback can also help managers address and correct problems early on, before they escalate and become more difficult to manage. It can also help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. It promotes transparency and open communication within the organization.

    By providing clear and actionable feedback, managers can help employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement. This will guide them towards the behaviors and actions that will help them succeed in their roles. Ultimately, the ability to give effective feedback is a critical skill for any manager who wants to build a high-performing team and drive success in their organization.


    Giving feedback is not easy, but it is an essential tool for managers and leaders to help employees grow and improve their performance. By positively framing feedback, giving feedback constructively, and providing examples of how to give feedback to employees, bosses, managers, and peers, managers can foster a culture of continuous improvement and promote employee growth.

    If you follow the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can develop the ability to give feedback constructively, positively frame your feedback. And navigate various feedback scenarios with confidence. Don’t let the fear of negative reactions hold you back from providing feedback that can help individuals and teams improve and excel. With practice and perseverance, you can become a skilled feedback provider and make a positive impact in your workplace. Take the leap and try this out – you might be surprised at the positive outcomes that come your way!

    Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].


    Giving Feedback, Leadership Development, Personal Development, Communication, Career Development, Performance Reviews, Business Communication, Difficult Employees

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