Five key tips for giving great feedback

Providing feedback to your employees can be fraught with difficulty. It’s a tough balancing act to praise and motivate your staff on the one hand, while offering constructive comments that don’t lead to irritation and defensiveness on the other.

But to really harness the benefits of feedback, you should aim to make it a two-way process. By encouraging your employees to provide their own anonymous feedback via a dedicated platform, you will receive honest opinions which will immediately tell you if your own feedback is working. And when you take action based on your employees’ feedback, you will be rewarded with a more highly engaged workforce that is 21 per cent more profitable and 20 per cent more productive.

Five ways to deliver first-rate feedback

Follow our five-step guide to giving employee feedback to ensure that your employees remain engaged for the long term.

1. Know why you’re giving feedback

You first need to ask yourself why you’re providing the feedback. Do you want to help an employee to improve their performance next time, or are you simply keen to point out how poorly they performed last time? Compare your feelings to the employee’s actions, and then decide how you can use your feelings to generate a positive dialogue that will ultimately improve the employee’s performance.

If you only intend offering constructive feedback to help the employee, try to negate difficult conversations by focusing on the employee’s behaviour instead of their personality. This approach is more likely to achieve the desired effect and avoid emotional flare-ups.

2. Make feedback specific

Your feedback needs to be clear, precise and reasonable if you want employees to act on it. Once you’ve linked the feedback to a certain form of behaviour, you can suggest specific ways for the employee to improve in the future. Rather than telling an employee to simply improve their writing skills, give them detailed advice on how they can produce a better press release next time and they’ll be far more likely do so… and they’ll thank you for it!

3. Ensure feedback is timely

The phrase “time is of the essence” is particularly pertinent when it comes to feedback. Spend too long tailoring your feedback to the individual employee concerned, or coming up with a raft of ideas for improvement, and you’ll miss the chance to make sure your feedback sticks. Wait months for the next performance review to roll around before delivering your feedback and the employee may struggle to recall the example you’re talking about. In the worst-case scenario, they could remember the incident inaccurately. And in the meantime, they’ll have probably reproduced that undesired behaviour on many occasions.

Giving feedback as close as possible to the behaviour under discussion — preferably on the same day – will mean that the employee concerned is not only more likely to appreciate and process the feedback, they’ll be able to put your guidance into practice straight away.

4. Give feedback regularly

Get into the habit of giving feedback regularly and as often as possible. Organisations that offer regular strengths-based feedback benefit from a 14.9 per cent lower turnover rate. Giving your staff a huge amount of feedback just a couple of times a year will make it difficult for them to implement your suggestions and is unlikely to be particularly appropriate to their current working practices. In contrast, give them regular feedback and you’ll make the process an accepted part of their work environment. They’ll be more open to your advice, implement it more quickly and feel more relaxed about providing feedback of their own.

5. Be sure to act on feedback requested from employees

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Requesting employee feedback and then visibly acting on it is a vital element in the overall feedback process. If your employees don’t witness you taking action based on their feedback, why should they bother giving you feedback in the first place? Your employees will feel powerless and ignored if they don’t see their feedback result in positive change.

Click here to find out more about Achievers’ employee engagement platform.