How to Deliver Effective Feedback in the Workplace

February 28, 2019
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Constructive feedback in the workplace is extremely important: workplaces need effective communication to succeed and thrive. As well as increasing staff morale, feedback helps us learn more about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our behaviours, and how our actions affect others. It also increases our self-awareness and encourages personal development.

Feedback doesn’t always have to be positive. Negative feedback highlights areas where we need to improve and helps make our work much better in the long run. However, it’s important that you give feedback skilfully and productively, otherwise it provides no basis for development.

employer giving constructive and clear feedback

We know that giving effective, constructive feedback can be difficult, so we’ll explain how to do this and outline the main benefits of doing so. We’ll also include some examples of constructive feedback phrases for you to use in your workplace.

How to Give Effective Feedback

Giving feedback in the workplace is important, but knowing how to deliver it effectively is essential. Your feedback needs to be clear, concise, and purposeful in order to be useful. Here, we explain how to deliver effective feedback and offer some constructive feedback examples.

Start with the Positive

If you need to give negative feedback, such as on a piece of work, then you should initially start with what the employee has done well. As individuals, we tend to internalise criticism much more than compliments. Therefore, when you frame a criticism positively, employees are less likely to take it personally.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “Your work isn’t written in line with our company voice.”

Try this: “I really like how you’ve approached this piece of work. I have identified a couple of instances where your writing doesn’t match the company voice, so please can you revisit these again.”

Be Specific

It’s important that your feedback is direct if you are to make it beneficial. Avoid making generalised evaluations about something and asking vague questions. Put as much detail into your comment as possible to make it specific and actionable.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “You were great!”

Try this: “I really liked the introduction you gave in your presentation on Monday.”

Instead of: “Can you make your work a bit clearer and consistent?”

Try this: “Your spreadsheet is very useful and evaluative. However, the last two columns are not as clear as the rest of your columns. Please can you make them consistent with the rest?”

manager delivering feedback to employee in warehouse

Be Objective

You should always focus on factual information and justify your feedback, especially if it’s negative. Try not to base your judgment on subjective information and personal feelings and emotions.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “I’m not keen on how you answered that phone call.”

Try this: “I was pleased with how quickly you answered that phone call. However, next time please can you give the customer your name and ask how you can help?”

Give Actionable Advice

Giving actionable advice is incredibly important if you are going to give negative feedback. It’s pointless to criticise a piece of work if you don’t say how to improve it. You should always give pointers that the employee can work on and follow up your feedback to ensure they understand what to do.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “I think you could improve your public speaking.”

Try this: “Well done for speaking in front of everyone, I know it can be daunting. For next time, try to look up a little more instead of looking down at your script. I have a book you can read to help you feel more confident to do this.”

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Make Feedback Frequent

You should always aim to give feedback frequently – don’t just wait for an annual appraisal before you let an employee know their progress. This is especially important if you’re not happy with the way an employee completed a task. If you don’t give feedback close to the time, the employee will unknowingly keep making the same errors.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “I’ll discuss this piece of work with you in your next monthly one-to-one.”

Try this: “I’d like to discuss this piece of work with you. Please can you let me know a time in the next few days when you’re free to discuss it?”

Communicate face-to-face

Provide feedback face-to-face where possible, rather than on messaging systems or over email. This gives the employee the chance to ask questions and makes your feedback much more genuine.

Constructive feedback example

Instead of: “I’ll email you feedback on your task.”

Try this: “I’d like to give you some feedback on your completed task. Please can you let me know a time in the next few days when you’re free to discuss it?”

barista serving a customer

Benefits of Feedback in the Workplace

There are so many advantages to giving your employees positive and negative feedback in the workplace, as long as it’s communicated effectively. The benefits of using the above types of feedback are:

  1. Increased motivation. If employees receive positive feedback about their work, they’ll feel appreciated and more motivated.
  2. Greater performance. Employees’ work will reach a higher standard when they know their efforts are valued and when they receive feedback that highlights areas for improvement.
  3. Continuous learning. Quite often, we fall into repetitive, monotonous work routines and we stop learning new things. By giving constructive and frequent feedback, particularly if it includes areas to improve, you teach employees new ways to do things.
  4. Improved relationships. Employees are much more likely to come to you with problems if they know you take note of their activities. Furthermore, if you let them know when you’re happy with their work, they will likely continue to work hard to ‘not let you down’.
  5. Personal growth. Both positive and negative feedback shows employees their strengths as well as areas to work on. This makes them more self-aware and provides them with invaluable opportunities for personal improvement.
  6. Increased confidence. When you give your employees positive feedback, and let them know whenever they’ve done something well, you increase their confidence in their work. This makes them feel happier to come to work.

This article has explained the importance of feedback in the workplace and offered you some constructive feedback phrases to use. Feedback is extremely beneficial, so embrace both positive and negative feedback to create a more successful work environment.

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