6 Tips for Giving Effective Employee Feedback in the Workplace
With so much to do, it’s easy to put giving feedback to employees at the bottom of your to-do list, but you shouldn’t.
Employees want feedback.
Over 75% of employees say they believe that feedback is valuable, with 65% of employees saying that they want more feedback.
Feedback enables employees to better understand expectations. They know if they're on track, and it gives them opportunities for recognition, which is something they crave.
Regular feedback helps the whole organization.
Employees report that they would work harder if their contributions received recognition. Plus, companies with regular feedback also experience lower turnover rates.
That doesn’t mean any feedback is better than no feedback at all. Bad feedback can make things worse. It can weaken morale, lower confidence levels, and reduce productivity.
So, what does effective employee feedback in the workplace look like?
Here's how to improve feedback in the workplace. See below for real-life examples of providing feedback to employees that you can use in your organization right away:
- Set up a Structure for Ad-Hoc Feedback
- Store Feedback to Reference Later
- Structure Feedback Around Specific Goals
- Consider Different Feedback Structures
- Back-Up Feedback With Performance Data
- Consult With Employees on How Often They Prefer Feedback
Set Up a Structure for Ad-Hoc Feedback
Feedback is something that managers don’t think much about until review time rolls around. Although the purpose of giving reviews is to give and receive feedback, employees shouldn’t have to wait until review time to know how they’re doing.
Giving effective employee feedback in the workplace means setting up a structure for ad-hoc feedback. This is feedback that can occur in the moment; when it’s relevant.
This means employees get to receive feedback on an ongoing basis without having to unpack loads of feedback at a formal review. It also means managers can give feedback as it comes up. There’s no need to keep a running list of notes or try to come up with feedback from weeks or even months ago.
Store Feedback to Reference Later
If you’re ready to use ad-hoc feedback, you have to know how to do it the right way.
Sending it in emails, sharing it in Zoom meetings, and typing it into Slack or Teams isn’t going to cut it because it doesn’t allow you to store the feedback. Employees will find it hard to find old feedback if they can even find it at all. Managers will have to dig through emails and message chains looking for the feedback they gave ahead of the next review.
Continuous feedback platforms, like PerformYard, allow you to store feedback in one place as part of each employee’s profile. That makes it easier for managers to access feedback when it’s time for reviews, but it also means employees can see all their feedback in one place. They can see how they’re doing and make adjustments to their performance based on that feedback ahead of the next review
Structure Feedback Around Specific Goals
Committing to storing ad-hoc feedback is an excellent first step. That said, storing that feedback in one place isn’t going to matter if the feedback itself isn’t good.
One of the best feedback methods in the workplace involves structuring feedback around specific goals.
This strategy ensures that feedback relates to specific tasks. That means it’s easier to create specific, actionable feedback. It’s the kind of feedback that feels the least like a personal attack because it’s task-based and not behavior-based.
It’s also the most empowering type of feedback. Employees can easily see a way forward. Employees know exactly what they need to do differently to achieve their goals. They don't have to recieve feedback and feel demoralized because they aren’t sure what to do about it.
It's even better if you can structure feedback around specific goals in a visual way.
A program like PerformYard enables you to store feedback and goals side-by-side. Software makes the process of checking the progress of a particular goal easier to see, which means making adjustments is easier too.
Consider Different Feedback Structures
One-on-one feedback is the traditional way to give feedback, but it isn’t the only way.
Other feedback structures can give employees a more holistic view of their performance. These systems allow employees to see how other employees feel about their performance. They know how their performance impacts projects and it even allows them to give—as well as receive—feedback.
- Project-based feedback
- Team-based feedback
- Upward feedback
Unlike annual reviews project-based feedback focuses on the project an employee just completed. Giving and receiving feedback is more relevant to day-to-day operations, and feedback tends to be more actionable. When tied to the latest project, employees can see what they might need to change before the next project begins.
Getting feedback from management is important, but it doesn’t always capture true performance. That’s because employees work with more people than just their managers.
360 Feedback enables coworkers to leave feedback for each other. This type of review is great when employees work on teams or collaborate with others regularly.
The trick to an effective 360 review process is using performance management software. The software can collect, organize, and cohesively present 360 reviews. Especially because there is usually much more feedback to manage with 360 reviews compared to other feedback methods.
Team-based feedback involves gathering feedback from individuals. This is similar to many other review strategies, but it gathers feedback in the context of the team they work on. Employees receive input from their fellow team members and their team leader instead of a traditional manager. Information is meant to enhance individual performance, but it does so within the context of the team itself.
Most performance management strategies take a top-down approach. That means managers and team leads provide feedback to employees. With upward feedback, employees get the chance to review their managers.
This type of review gives some power back to the employees by allowing them to review their managers. It also allows managers to learn and grow, just as they expect their employees to do.
Back-Up Feedback With Performance Data
Effective employee feedback in the workplace avoids opinions. Opinion-based feedback can show bias. The very best feedback backs up claims with performance data.
When you use performance management software to track performance data, you can focus on specific data points. You can analyze how they're completion rate for goals. You can see what kind of performance ratings the employee has received over time. It's even possible to see which metrics they have achieved—as well as which ones they haven’t.
Armed with this data, feedback is factual and actionable. It is more likely that employees will feel motivated after the latest round of reviews.
Consult With Employees on How Often They Prefer Feedback
Many employees feel demotivated by the review process because they don’t feel like they have any input or control over how it unfolds. If you consult with employees about how often they would like to receive feedback, you can give them some power over the process.
Ask employees if they prefer feedback every month, after the completion of a project, or if they prefer a mid-year or annual review. Once you’ve received their input, set up a system that enables them to receive feedback according to their preferences.
A platform like PerformYard makes this easy, even if you have employees who have different feedback preferences. With individual profiles, employees can access feedback when it suits them before the next review.