Top Do’s and Don'ts of Employee Feedback

Top Do’s and Don'ts of Employee Feedback

December 27, 2021

Feedback helps employees find their way in the workplace. It allows them to recognize and correct development areas and lets them know when they’ve done a great job. Without feedback, employee performance and engagement would fall, and your organization would find it increasingly difficult to reach its goals.

While employee feedback is absolutely necessary in the workplace, you need to ensure managers are equipped to give feedback effectively to support employee performance rather than hurting it.

Consider the following do’s and don'ts of employee feedback to keep your workforce engaged and productive.

The Do’s: Best Practices in Employee Feedback

Employee feedback can take many forms, including performance reviews, individual coaching, 360-reviews, and informal 1–on-1 discussions. Whatever way you deliver feedback, there are specific ways to make it more valuable for employees and your organization as a whole.

Take the following actions to deliver impactful employee feedback:

Make it two-way

Feedback that only goes one way can leave employees feeling judged and under appreciated. But when you try to understand employees’ experiences at work and what they need to perform, you can create an environment that helps them do their best work.

Instead of only delivering feedback top-down, look for opportunities to have a conversation where you also try to understand employee perspectives and experiences. To start the conversation, ask questions such as:

● What support can I provide to help you succeed at work?

● What additional resources would help you perform better?

Deliver feedback frequently

Giving feedback only once or twice a year during performance review time is not enough to help employees work on development areas or help them feel recognized for great work. Conversely, by delivering feedback frequently, you can help employees feel more engaged and ready to perform at their best. Research by Gallup found that employees who received weekly (vs. annual) feedback from their manager were 3.2 times more likely to say they were motivated to do outstanding work and 3.7 times more likely to be engaged at work.

Balance the positive with the negative

For employees, there’s almost nothing worse than a manager who only delivers constructive feedback and withholds positive recognition. But by delivering balanced feedback, you can create an environment of fairness and help employees build trust in you and the feedback. To deliver balanced feedback, you don’t have to “sandwich” the negative feedback with the positive, nor do you need to sugarcoat it. Research shows that when constructive feedback is delivered in the right context, employees are more open to it than you might think. In one study, 92 percent of surveyed employees agreed that negative feedback, when delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.

The Don’ts: Employee Feedback Actions to Avoid

When delivered poorly, employee feedback can easily backfire and fail to achieve its intended outcome. To reduce the chances of delivering feedback that could hurt your employees’ engagement and performance rather than improve it, avoid the following feedback faux-pas:

Delivering subtle messages

When you choose subtlety over being direct, employees can easily misunderstand the feedback and its intent. Instead of making employees “read between the lines” of what you’re saying, be clear and direct when giving feedback.

Giving corrective feedback in front of others

It’s one thing to praise employees in front of their peers, but when you need to deliver constructive feedback, you should never do it in front of an audience. Not only can giving corrective feedback in front of others be demoralizing, but it can also create an environment of distrust and disengagement among everyone on the team, not just the employee receiving the feedback.

Don’t wait too long to give feedback

Whether you’re recognizing an employee’s accomplishments or providing constructive criticism, don’t let too much time pass between the employee’s actions and your feedback. Waiting too long can lessen the impact of the feedback and make it harder for employees to connect the dots between what they did and what they should do differently or the same next time.

Deliver Employee Feedback Like a Pro

While there are plenty of ways to get employee feedback wrong, you can get it right by demonstrating a bit of empathy and incorporating some key best practices into your people management activities. To help you deliver employee feedback more effectively, work with a trusted HR services provider who can offer expert HR manager support and resources to make feedback one of your organization’s many core competencies. To learn more, contact us today.

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