Effective Feedback Guidelines

effective feedback

Make your feedback have the impact it deserves. Your feedback can make a difference to people if you can avoid provoking a defensive response. These guidelines will help you help employees develop their performance.

Effective employee feedback is specific, not general

For example, say, “The report that you turned in yesterday was well-written, understandable, and made your points about the budget very effectively.” Do not just say, “Good report.” One of the purposes of effective, constructive feedback is to let the individual know the specific behavior that you would like to see more of from them. General feedback like a pat on the back makes the employee feel good momentarily but does not do a good job of reinforcing the behavior.

Useful feedback always focuses on a specific behaviour, not on a person or their intentions

For example, say, “When you participated in competing conversations during the staff meeting, while Mary had the floor, you distracted the other people in attendance. As a result, Mary’s point was partially missed.”

Successful feedback describes actions or behaviour that the individual can do something about

Ask the employee what they might do differently as a result of hearing the feedback. If you can, provide any tools, training, time, or support that the person needs to successfully perform as you need them to perform.

Whether the feedback is positive or constructive, provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible

Effective feedback is well timed so that the employee can easily connect the feedback with their actions.

Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why

Asking why is asking people about their motivation and that provokes defensiveness. Ask, “What happened? How did that happen? How can you prevent that outcome in the future? How can I have done a better job of helping you? What do you need from me in the future?”

Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop

Set a time to get back together to discuss whether the feedback changed performance and whether any additional actions are needed.

Successful feedback is as consistent as possible

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