How to Give Effective Feedback in the Workplace

Does the word “feedback” conjure up negative feelings? Maybe you’ve received feedback that has been damaging. Or maybe you struggle to share meaningful, effective feedback in the workplace. The ability to give feedback is a skill – and it is becoming essential for it to be done effectively. 

What It Means to Have Effective Feedback in the Workplace 

Giving feedback is a critical way to involve, encourage, and energise others to achieve results and improve their skills. You can use a framework for providing effective feedback in the workplace to ensure your feedback is relevant, insightful, and impactful for all the right reasons.  

Effective feedback in the workplace is: 

1. Intentional and Well Prepared 

Plan how you will give feedback and what you will say ahead of time. You should also consider what forum and format you give the employee feedback. 

While it may be appropriate to share positive feedback via email, and to include others to hear the good news, developmental feedback is best delivered face to face (in person or over a video call with the camera on) without any bystanders. 

2. Specific 

While it’s nice when someone acknowledges your work, saying “good job” doesn’t cut it. Statements of praise alone are vague and don’t tell someone exactly what they did that was good. Try pairing statements of praise with specifics so employees know what behaviors to repeat. You can use the STAR or STAR/AR format to provide specific feedback and ensure your feedback is clear. Describe the situation or task (ST), the actions the person took in response to that situation (A), and the result of their actions (R). 

When providing developmental feedback, provide the STAR but also seek or share an alternate action they could have taken and the alternate result. The STAR and STAR/AR format ensures that your feedback is focused on the behavior and not on the person. 

This method for delivering feedback is evidence of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Leaders with a growth mindset believe in personal and professional growth and development and the ability to learn from mistakes. 

3. Considerate of Personal and Practical Needs 

Your feedback will be better received if you are mindful of emotions and how you communicate feedback. Each of us has core human needs to feel valued and recognised for our contributions and to be listened to and understood. 

When giving positive and developmental feedback, pay attention to what emotions your employee expresses and respond with empathy. Failing to notice or acknowledge emotions can be a barrier to delivering feedback effectively and building trust with your employee. When you deliver feedback that criticises and doesn’t recognise effort, you can damage esteem. You should also be mindful of your tone and nonverbals when delivering feedback. 

Additionally, you should be mindful of meeting an employee’s practical needs when you deliver feedback. Sharing positive feedback gives team members actionable information about what they can keep doing to be successful in their work. Sharing developmental feedback offers goals for team members to work toward, proving their capability to grow and learn. 

4. Timely 

Provide feedback as close to when the performance happens as possible. Saving up feedback for formal performance reviews doesn’t have the same impact as delivering it as soon as you see a behavior. Saving feedback for formal conversations also doesn’t give the employee the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve along the way. 

The effectiveness of your feedback depends on many factors—the trust that exists between you and the other person, your EQ, how open the recipient is to receiving feedback, the nature of the feedback, and the words you choose. Take time to consider this when you are preparing to share feedback. 

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