Employees are the pulse of the organization. They can make or break the working landscape. For many of us, "employee feedback" sparks memories of uncomfortable conversations with unapproachable managers. However, employee feedback has evolved into ongoing listening strategies that build trust between managers and employees in today's world. Regular employee feedback results in significantly higher engagement, with a plethora of benefits.
Employee feedback is becoming a significant point of emphasis. Managers utilize feedback to make workplaces better and recognize their employees by giving them more than the metaphoric pat on the back.
The value of positive employee feedback is obvious. It reinforces the right behaviors, and it is directly linked to increased morale and productivity. Negative employee feedback is equally important. When provided constructively, it reduces unfavorable behaviors and helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses. The right feedback, given at a critical time, can significantly impact behaviors, skills, careers, and the company's bottom line.
Ongoing employee feedback is the key to moving forward from outdated performance reviews to track employee progress and improve them on time. Such feedback breaks bad habits, reinforces positive behavior, and enables teams to work more effectively toward their goals. One employee's feedback is a survival guide for another.
With more employees working from home, independently, and remotely, building connections between employees and managers is more important than ever. Employee feedback is critical to building these connections.
What is employee feedback?
Feedback represents the exchange of information about the performance of a person or product. This information is the starting point, the purpose being the improvement of that performance. Also, feedback consists of the opinion we present to a person following a specific action taken by this person.
Employee feedback is the process of giving constructive suggestions to employees by their reporting managers, supervisors, and peers. However, this is not restricted here; employee feedback also comprises the employee's feedback to the manager, peers, or the organization.
Employee feedback is an integral part of the employee experience process and a mechanism that will increasingly help employees get better at their job and for the organization to develop a better workplace culture.
When employees start getting feedback, they feel they are part of the company. Employee recognition plays a huge role in boosting performance and maintaining high levels of engagement. It is also one of the manager's best tools and an essential part of organizational communication. When done regularly, feedback stops being a thing to be anxious about and becomes another part of work.
Types of employee feedback
While there are many feedback qualities, we'll be focusing on positive, constructive, and negative feedback:
- Positive/ appreciative feedback – is given promptly and with interest in it. This type of feedback builds the confidence and self-esteem of the person to whom the manager addresses it. The recipient of the positive feedback will repeat the appreciated behavior and will self-overcome by increasing personal productivity and permanently improving the results. Positive feedback strengthens performance. Positive feedback gives clarity to the employee about good performance. Moreover, it increases appropriate risk-taking, innovation, and involvement. Plus, it makes an employee feel acknowledged.
- Constructive/ corrective feedback – this is oriented towards those elements that can and should be improved. Constructive feedback is meant to lead to a positive change, and it comes as recommendations for obtaining better results. Corrective feedback must be delivered in such a way and by such a person that it will be attended to, rather than simply arousing defensiveness, denial, or anger. It should be followed by a session of re-evaluation and checking the progress of implementing the recommendation.
- Negative feedback - is only the expression of negative opinions over somebody's actions, without including recommendations necessary for change; this type of feedback leads to no result. It only produces frustrations, resistance, and some degree of unwillingness in its acceptance.
Feedback represents the most direct way of communicating a reasoned opinion about a person's performance. But, as simple as it might seem, giving feedback is an incredibly complex and intimidating process because of how delicate we are as humans. There are many reasons why managers hesitate to offer feedback to their employees, among which we find:
- Managers do not know how to give positive feedback effectively because they did not receive much praise either.
- People generally believe that there is no need to praise someone for doing their jobs.
- Some managers may believe that their employees' performance would suffer if they were told they were already doing an excellent job.
- A type of manager thinks that only corrective feedback can help their employees improve and grow.
How to give efficient feedback?
For feedback to be efficient and reach its goal, it must have three well-defined phases:
I. Analyzing and understanding the employee and what they are doing
Giving feedback from the manager to the employee is a very specific process, performed after objectively analyzing the employee and is oriented towards a particular goal.
Feedback like: "You did good""Good job!"," You need to improve yourself" can be confusing. The employee does not know what exactly has the managers appreciate or what needs improvement. Instead, feedback oriented precisely on a specific action performed at a particular moment by an employee brings value to their activity. The worker feels appreciated and observed, not just a part of a machine; they are an important resource for the company.
Also, the manager should tailor the feedback be to the personality of each employee. For example, some employees feel great when recognized in public, while others prefer receiving positive feedback privately. You will know, at this phase, when you, as a manager, get to know your employees, their personalities, and preferences!
II. Giving the actual feedback
Ideally, the manager provides feedback during a face-to-face meeting outside the office, preferably during a walk or a coffee. Your message is better understood and received if it is accompanied by appropriate body language: smile, keep eye contact, and use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures.
Keep in mind basic human psychology. People tend to respond better to positive information, so always open your feedback session with praise and then continue with constructive comments. In no way does this mean you have to sugar-coat your opinion, but there is a reason we still use the idiom "take the bitter with the sweet".
The sooner you communicate some of the challenges and problems, the sooner they will investigate them. When reviewing their work, use numbers and data. Embrace the metrics. Please find all the evidence to support your opinion; otherwise, there is little value in it. Be specific about what was done and what was not. The feedback session is useless if it is about hypothetical situations, which are not depending on the recipient of the feedback.
Before ending the session, confirm understanding and establish an action plan. Offer suggestions for improvement and expectations going forward.
III. Follow up on the feedback
Simply delivering the feedback is not enough for a successful session. Monitoring the progress of the ideas and recommendations presented during the session is an essential phase of the feedback.
Whenever someone gives you feedback, flag those notes and follow up at the next meeting. In between meetings, do some serious introspection and see what you can learn from the feedback. Also, consider sharing the feedback with trusted colleagues so you can figure out whether others see your behavior in a similar light. When the next meeting rolls around, let the feedback provider know what you learned from it and how you have worked to change (if that is indeed the case).
Following up shows your employees you have taken their feedback seriously, and it will give you a chance to improve yourself.
Examples of Positive Feedback for a Team Player
It is challenging to work well in a group and be an intuitive, empathetic, and kind person. If you have someone like this on your team, here are some positive feedback examples:
- “I appreciate your dedication to the team beyond your day-to-day work. Your collaborative nature and leadership skills truly exemplify our company values.”
- “Thank you for your efforts in keeping everyone on the same page, taking time to explain the complexities, and helping others whenever possible. These qualities make you an asset to the team and our company.”
- “I appreciate how you encourage your team to make more informed decisions and to be more accountable to the team. Thank you for promoting such strong collaborative values. It is an essential part of our company culture.”
- “I admire your ability to be a great team player and a strong cross-collaborator. Your recent project received a lot of positive feedback from other teams. Everyone greatly appreciates your team player attitude!”
Examples of Positive Feedback for Reaching Milestones
As a manager or leader, do not pass up opportunities to congratulate and celebrate with your employees when they accomplish something extraordinary. Here are a few meaningful positive feedback examples to help you find the right words:
- “Your proactive approach is a quality that strengthens our team. I admire you for taking risks and speaking out. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty.”
- “Congratulations on finishing this challenging project in record time! It is remarkable how you collaborated with different teams to fast-track your part. Thank you for all your consistent hard work.”
- “Good luck in your new position. Your fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude are infectious. If anyone deserves this promotion, it is you. I look forward to seeing what great changes you bring to the team.”
- “The goals you set for yourself this quarter were ambitious, but what is more impressive is that you managed to meet them all. You are the ideal employee that every manager wishes for. Outstanding work!”
Examples of Positive Feedback for Showing Leadership Skills
Not all heroes wear capes, just as not all leaders are in a leadership role. Some are regular employees who rise and lead the team when the situation calls for it. For such employees, here are our best picks for the positive feedback examples:
- “Thank you for leading the team through the new transition. It felt good knowing our team members could trust and rely on someone. You are more than prepared to take on greater responsibilities.”
- “Your attention to detail makes you a trustworthy person. I am impressed by your qualities. You have a lot of potential as a team leader.”
- “We have seen incredible growth since you took over as team leader. Your addition to the team has resulted in a dramatic increase in morale, productivity, and employee engagement. We are excited to see what is next in store!
- “Thank you for taking on the leadership of the new project on such short notice. Your proactive attitude clearly shows that you are a great leader in the making.”
Examples of Positive Feedback for Personal Development
Growth is a crucial part of personal and organizational success. When an employee goes above and beyond to improve their skills and abilities, show appreciation using the following positive feedback examples:
- “I have noticed a significant improvement in your performance, behavior, and skills since your last performance review. I am truly amazed by the dedication and positive attitude that you bring to work every day. Good job!”
- “I wanted to congratulate you on doing such an amazing job of mastering that skill in such a short time. Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to learn that will help you contribute more efficiently.”
- “I admire you for recognizing your limitations in your skills and taking the initiative to approach me about wanting to learn new things. I am glad to see such a strong sense of initiative from you.”
- “I have noticed that you have been taking on increasingly challenging tasks lately. I appreciate you taking such risks and stepping outside your comfort zone. I am always here to support.”
CONSTRUCTIVE EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK EXAMPLES
Constructive feedback is a way to guide, suggest, or advise employees and managers to improve the quality of their work, or their team management abilities without throwing harsh opinions. Constructive criticism makes giving feedback less painful, and when used right, it helps employees become the best version of themselves.
Let’s go through main scenarios with examples of employee constructive feedback:
#1 A hard-working but not so punctual employee
“I truly admire your skills and the enthusiasm you show when dealing with clients. However, I noticed that you have been late to the team meetings for the past couple of months. These meetings are crucial since we discuss the progress and decide on future steps. You must attend these meetings with the same enthusiasm.”
#2 An employee whose performance is deteriorating
“The quality of your deliverables has been unmatched since you joined the organization. However, I am concerned that your performance has not been up to the mark for the past month. I would like to know why that may be happening and help you get back on track in no time.”
#3 An employee shows bad behavior
“I wanted to talk to you about your behavior: I have heard that you have been ignoring people and rolling your eyes at them. It seems you are irritated by something personal or professional. Is there something that I can do to help you?”
#4 A peer with poor communication skills
“Your passion and stamina at work inspire many of us here. However, one thing stopping you from being the best is your lack of good communication skills. If you focus on improving these skills once a week, you can become an even better version of yourself.”
#5 The productivity of an employee begins to decline
“When it comes to working with motivation and enthusiasm, we cannot think of another name but yours. However, I have noticed that you are not performing as productively as you used to. I am concerned about why that may be happening. If there is anything that any one of us can do to make you perform better, don’t shy away from telling.”
Given below are a few constructive feedback to manager examples:
#1 The team manager is not guiding enough
“I know you are busy and have a lot on your plate. Still, I wanted to talk to you if you could show me a little more direction. It would help me if you could have regular follow-ups. That way, I am sure I will be able to deliver my best and be on track.”
#2 A manager who overburdens employees
“After thinking for some time, I conclude that I will not be able to work on the latest task you have assigned me. I am working on a different assignment, and I cannot give this project the time it needs. Can we talk about lightening the workload a little bit?”
#3 A manager who micromanages
“I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get after completing my assigned tasks. But I am concerned that most of my time gets wasted among reports for all the completed tasks that you ask. Would it be possible if I turn in a monthly report of all the completed tasks instead?”
EXAMPLES OF NEGATIVE EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK
Negative feedback can be hard to handle and, when poorly delivered, unhelpful.
While we have all been on the receiving end of criticism – that uncomfortable conversation often toned down by pleasantries – it is neither easy to give nor to take.
Here are a few examples of negative employee feedback:
#1 The employee shows low morale
“You seem less engaged and motivated, and your morale impacts team members, also. I want to ensure we are all in this together and supporting each other. Is there something going on that I am not aware of? Is there anything I can do to help?”
#2 Late delivery on a project
“I want to talk to you about your work on this last project because your delay impacted the team. I want you to be more proactive in spotting the roadblocks before they impact your delivery next time. How can we make it easier for you to raise the flag on these things?”
#3 Managing an internal conflict
“I sensed a tension during our meeting, and I want to address it before impacting our productivity or happiness. We are all working towards the same goal here, and it is okay if we have different ideas on how to get there. What are your main concerns? Let’s schedule a meeting to work towards a collaborative resolution.”
#4 Addressing unprofessional attitudes
“I wanted to talk to you about what you said during the meeting. You may be frustrated, but you must respect our code of conduct in and out of the workplace. I want to emphasize the importance of prioritizing diversity, a safe and professional environment for everyone. Do you agree?”
EXAMPLES OF FEEDBACK IN A REMOTE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Shifting to remote work can make giving feedback more challenging. The lack of in-person interaction and nonverbal communication can create additional concerns when delivering any feedback whether it is positive, constructive, or negative.
#1 Addressing decreased employee performance during remote team meeting
“We have all been adapting to this reality differently, and I noticed some of us struggle to maintain the same pace we had before we went remote. I want to figure out what everyone’s unique blockers are, so we can work better together before it starts impacting our performance. What has been challenging for you? Do you have ideas for how the team can be more efficient together?
#2 Work-life balance concerns
“I have noticed you are sending emails outside working hours since we switched to remote. I want everyone to have flexibility in their scheduling without negatively impacting the process. What do you find helps you maintain your work-life balance?”
#3 Issues with virtual communication
“I realized you take a long time to reply to crucial messages. I know you must stay focused, but I need the team’s help to keep an open line of communication for important messages. Let’s discuss some strategies we can implement to stay connected. What has been your experience with our communication processes since we all work from home?”
#4 Expressing gratitude for dedication in tough times
“We know that the shift to remote has been challenging for everyone. Thank you for your resilience and commitment while we work from home. I look forward to our continued virtual collaboration!”
Tips for giving feedback to remote teams
In the not-so-distant past, it was easy to schedule lunch or an in-office meeting for a regular or pop-up feedback conversation, where you could make eye contact and evaluate body language. We're in a new world these days. The pandemic necessitates that many leaders and team members are staying away from the office all the time. They rely on a phone call or video tool - but even with video, a huge amount of communication is missing, such as unconscious body language. It may be tempting to take"the easy way out" and take feedback off your to-do list, but avoiding feedback for weeks, months or years is a direct path for making your work a lot harder. Here are several steps to mastering remote feedback:
A. Create and maintain trust
Since you don't see your team members in person, don't have close working conditions, eye contact, or informal conversation's it's important to begin phone contact with them more frequently to build and maintain personal rapport. Call them to chat and ask how they are doing in general. Listen, keep it authentic and share a bit about your own life. This approach helps to make up for a lack of face-to-face communication when it comes time to give feedback. You may notice that it requires a little more attention than when you talk to people in the hallway on a day-to-day basis, but the trust that you build will pay off.
B. Spend more time on goals and priorities
Ask team members what they are focusing on, review their understanding of their goals and help them work through possible conflicting priorities. Find out what is creating delays or problems and have an open-minded conversation about how to proceed. Make it crystal clear when goals have changed and share new information from the management team about what is important this week.
C. Ask them to share their story
Think about a behavioral interview question that you might ask a job candidate. Ask your employees to tell stories about a particular situation: What did they do, step by step? In the case of remote employees, use these descriptive stories like observations of their behavior.
D. Track what people are doing
You may wonder how you can track what employees are doing from week to week; the good news is that doing so can be part of the feedback process. Explore with them how they are handling their assignments and offer positive and corrective feedback, on the approaches they give you and how they are performing in general.
E. Ask for feedback from each of your remote colleagues
Allocate time to solicit employees' feedback, and let them know that you value their suggestions. Thank them for the honesty and acknowledge it's an important point. Ifcan'tcan't think of how or why to implement their feedback (which is unlikely), tell them you want to think about it and develop some ideas on how to implement it before your next meeting. Avoid a quick answer that hurts your mutual trust.
F. See feedback as the best solutions
Instead of seeing it as a chore, see feedback as the fastest route to better business conversations with teams working remotely. They will feel closer to you and your company. You are coaching them. If you handle it well, you will appreciate and respect one another even more, and your employees will be more likely to ask for help and stay on course for better performance.
How to give positive feedback to your employees?
Make your input count: give factual feedback, based on numbers and data, rather than emotional; examine both sides of an issue.
Make the feedback timely. Don't wait days or weeks to offer input. Be spontaneous. This will ensure that the feedback is relevant and helpful.
Provide advance notification and respect recipient' sent's other priorities: secure recipient' sent's undivided attention, free from distractions. Catch the recipient during a peaceful time of day so that they are emotionally available. Remember, being present is not the same as being there.
Build people up rather than tearing them down: complement people in public; present them shortcomings in private. Avoid shaming or threatening the recipient at all costs.
Focus on the act: base your input on recipients' effort and behavior (what they do) rather than on their personality traits or talent (what they are like).
Encourage meaningful communication rather than just taking turns talking. Make feedback a two-way conversation and give the recipient ample time to respond.
Confirm understanding and establish a plan: make sure you and the recipient are on the same page and offer suggestions for improvement before ending the conversation.
Follow up: establish a specific time to review actions taken and progress being made!
How to receive feedback from your employee?
Company communications should always be a two-way street.
The manager can conclude the feedback session by offering the opportunity to the employee to express his opinion, ask questions, and offer feedback.
Getting feedback to your feedback may sound silly at first, but we never get better by ourselves. We always need a new perspective to assess things objectively. Take note of what kind of feedback works and what does not.
Feedback is a tool that can be used unilaterally from top to bottom, from manager to employee, according to the organization chart. Still, in a company that values its employees and their expertise, authentic feedback is bilateral. It is granted in certain contexts and scheduled meetings to improve all employees, no matter their occupation.
In a business where work is based on mutual respect, feedback is well received both by the employee and by the manager. Nevertheless, the practice has shown that the managers tend to receive less feedback as they evolve on the career path.
If the feedback given by the employee is honest and justified, it will undoubtedly be well received by the manager. When receiving the feedback, the manager may not react or react negatively, but if there is a culture of feedback in the company and the manager is a true leader, in the end, he will appreciate the feedback.
Honest and concrete feedback offered by the employee to the manager during a private meeting is beneficial for both and implicitly for the company.
The tone of employee feedback
Like any other communication, feedback has a tone that can be informal and formal. Let's see what the difference between these two types of communication is:
- Informal feedback - happens spontaneously and in casual settings. It doesn't follow a set schedule with structure. Sometimes informal feedback can happen while walking down the hall, break room, or even at a water cooler. This ad-hoc communication has no limits: it can be communicated between colleagues, managers, or other teams. There's less pressure when it comes to informal feedback. Knowing in advance may build up anxiety, but due to informal feedback's spontaneous nature, those feelings don't have a chance to rise. However, since it can happen at any time, there's no time for preparation.
- Formal feedback - focuses on information-based observations. It usually includes work performance documentation, an overview of project results, and peer surveys. Formal feedback involves managers and leadership. Formal feedback has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, if employees know when the performance review is coming up, they have time to prepare, tie up loose ends, and showcase their best work. However, it can be stressful. With so many people involved, staff may feel under a microscope. Formal feedback may take the form of annual performance reviews, evaluation scores, HR reports, or surveys.
While each tone has its advantages and disadvantages, you should expect to see both in the workplace.
What are the benefits of giving feedback in a company?
The practice has shown that giving positive feedback to your employees brings many more benefits than simple recognition and a pleasant working environment. Employees receiving constant feedback from managers feel involved and motivated, and their work gets appreciated.
Giving positive feedback has numerous proven benefits, including:
- Higher employee engagement
A Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.
- Improved employee productivity
Another Gallup study found that teams with managers who focus on strengths daily have 12.5% greater productivity.
- Lower turnover rate
The Secret of Higher Performance study on 65,672 employees shows that those who received strong feedback had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than for employees who received no feedback.
- Greater profitability
Employees who receive effective, positive feedback regularly are more engaged, productive, stay longer with the company, and show greater profitability. Thus, every manager should learn how to give meaningful positive feedback.
Although it seems complicated to quantify, the statistics demonstrate the importance of feedback in a company. That is why now is the right moment to start building a culture of the feedback given in impromptu moments, using the best practices.
When should a manager offer feedback?
The easiest answer would be "Whenever it is deserved". However, when we talk about humans, nothing is easy.
When delivered in a thoughtful and empathetic manner, employee feedback has the power to enhance the relationship between you and your people.
While organizations vary widely and have different ways of providing employee feedback, the following examples offer some guidance managers can use in providing the most beneficial feedback.
POSITIVE EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK EXAMPLES
The positive feedback mechanism is perhaps one of the most impactful ways to make employees feel valued and that their contributions matter. It is also a foolproof way to connect, build rapport, and strengthen relationships with your employees or team members.
Examples of Positive Feedback for the Good Work of an Employee
Timely feedback can mean the difference between an engaged and disengaged employee. When you see someone doing a good job, express your appreciation immediately. Here are some positive feedback examples to inspire you:
- “Your input earlier was a game-changer for this project. I see how invested you are in the success of the project and the extra effort you put in to complete it on time. I admire your dedication and believe you have a bright future ahead.”
- “Reaching your goal is a big accomplishment! Because of all your hard work and grit, we are now much closer to the team and business goals. Congratulations, and thank you for your contribution.”
- “You did a great job with your presentation today. You identified points we failed to observe, and the data revealed our strengths, weaknesses, and priorities. We certainly hope to see more great initiatives from you in the future.”
- “I appreciate your prompt response in resolving this unexpected issue. Your willingness to take risks and make quick decisions helped us avoid a major business crisis. We are grateful to have such a talented and perceptive person on our team.”
Giving feedback whenever is necessary can be challenging even for the most experienced managers. But it should be in the DNA of every company that wants balanced employees and a pleasant working environment, based on trust and communication between employees and managers.
It would be absurd to believe that financial rewards are not desired, but these are harder to access. That is why feedback is so efficient, can be delivered almost immediately, and the results can be observed in the attitude of the employees.
Feedback is the shortest route from words to results!