8 Detailed Examples Of Giving Employee Feedback
Whether we realize it or not, we’re always giving or receiving feedback.
Sometimes it’s explicit, like in a one-on-one meeting, or it’s implicit, through our tone of voice and body language. We might not realize the image we’re giving off, so we need to be mindful of this. Also, when receiving feedback, it’s natural to take it as a personal attack and shut yourself off as a result. Instead, try to look at the feedback as a learning opportunity and grow from it. Before I go through 8 examples of how to give feedback correctly, let’s look at some important things to keep in mind when giving employee feedback.
Tips For More Effective Feedback
It’s amazing how much psychology and subtleties are involved in giving feedback. While some of this might seem like overkill, it’s really not. People are more sensitive than you might think, so it’s important to be compassionate when giving your feedback.
1. Focus On The Behavior, Not The Person This is probably the most important tip. The feedback shouldn’t be a personal attack, but should be helpful and meant to get them to improve a certain behavior. One idea that works well for this is to explain how the behavior makes you feel. By doing this, it forces you to focus on the behavior. For example: I noticed you haven’t shown up for the last two team meetings. I’m worried that you missed some important information. Can we meet to discuss what you missed? This is better than saying something like “You obviously don’t care about this team since you don’t show up for the meetings.
2. Remember The Feedback Is Simply Your Opinion Sometimes, what leaders will do is say something like “they feel” or “we think” or something along the lines of making it look like everyone agrees with your feedback. This is done to both make the message more powerful and shift the blame away from you. While this might seem like a smart idea in theory, you should use “I” instead. It will allow the employee to empathize with you (especially if you include how it makes you feel). Again, remember that feedback is simply your opinion.
3. Don’t Do The Feedback Sandwich Many people will tell you that the feedback sandwich works to soften the blow of feedback and that it’s a great idea. Don’t do it. It’s really not a good idea. In a research paper called Tell Me What I Did Wrong1 that looked at how different people responded to feedback, they found that the feedback sandwich doesn’t work most of the time. From the research paper: The negative feedback is often buried and not very specific. They say that a much smarter idea is to just be straightforward. Employees will appreciate your honesty. The problem is that people only hear the positive part of the feedback and stop listening once you’ve gotten to the negative part.
4. Don’t Forget The Positive When feedback is mostly negative, studies have shown that it discourages future effort.2 Remember to highlight and recognize good effort to keep employees motivated. Don’t use it as part of a sandwich, but keep in mind that positive efforts need to be noticed.
5. Follow Up This one might seem obvious, but remember to follow up with whoever you gave feedback to. The feedback is pretty pointless unless the employee improves and gets better at what they do, so make sure to follow up after a certain amount of time to see how it’s going. Offer your support to them throughout the entire process.
Examples Of Feedback Given Correctly Here are 8 examples of employee feedback that you can start using today.
1. An Employee Seems Disengaged If an employee is disengaged, you’ll want to figure out if something is bothering them, so you’ll want to:
- Show them you’re noticing/looking out for them
- Tell them how it makes you feel
- Offer help
Here’s what you can say: I noticed you don’t seem as happy as you usually do, and obviously that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Is everything okay? I think if we met once a week to make sure everything’s going okay, you’d be much happier.
2. An Employee Didn’t Deliver A Project On Time While this sucks, there’s not much you can do about it. No point in getting mad, just make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Everyone needs to be accountable for their work, so when giving feedback about this, you’ll
- Highlight why this is important
- Motivate them for next time
- Offer ideas to improve
Here’s what you can say: The project wasn’t delivered on time; do you have any idea why? As you know, we’re trying to get everything organized for the new website, so if you’re late on a project, it slows down the rest of the team. We’ll just make sure that for next time, you have more time and resources to finish on time. The new website is going to be sick! I think for next time, what you could do is schedule blocks of time maybe one day a week to make sure that you’re not overloaded with work towards the end. I tried that on my last project and it made a huge difference.
3. An Employee Made A Mistake With A Client You want to do everything in your power to make sure this never happens again, the clients are too important. Mistakes happen, but everyone needs to have everything they need so that it doesn’t happen again. When giving feedback about this, you’ll want to go into detail explaining what happened so they’re
- Tell them not to worry, it can be fixed
- Explain to them what happened so they understand for next time
- Offer help
Here’s what you can say: Not a big deal, but for next time, remember to update their billing information before you send them their access key. The way the access key number works is based on their billing info, so it’s super important. But don’t worry, we’ll just send them an apology email and do it manually right now. If you want to set up some time to go over how the software works, I’d be happy to show you, no problem.
4. An Employee Was Rude To A Coworker Ideally, everyone on the team works well together and collaborates smoothly, but tension between coworkers is a natural thing that occurs often. You want to put a stop to this one quickly.
- Explain why you’re talking to them and not the coworker
- Don’t blame, listen to their side
- Offer advice
Here’s what you can say: Stacey asked me to have a chat with you about something you said earlier, I don’t think she was comfortable saying anything so I offered to do it. I’m curious, can you let me know what happened? I’m assuming it was a misunderstanding, but of course I want us all to get along. If it was me, I’d wait until the end of the day and then apologize to her, maybe ask to go eat lunch together to talk about it.
5. An Employee Doesn’t Get Along With Anyone This situation is a bit more troubling, but again, you’ll want to focus on the behavior rather than the person.
- Be straightforward
- Offer ideas for a workaround
Here’s what you can say: I just wanted to let you know that I’ve gotten a few complaints recently from some people on the team. I wanted to chat with you directly about it to see if there was anything we can do. It might be because you’re stressed, but I think when you raise your voice it sometimes rubs people the wrong way, which might be why they’re perceiving it as rude. I wonder if working from home one day a week might help with some of the stress that you’re feeling.
6. An Employee Didn’t Set Good Goals This is a tricky one, because you don’t want to totally demotivate them, they might be upset enough that they didn’t hit their goals. Remember to:
- Be positive
- Be specific about what they could have done better
Here’s what you can say: Seriously, great job with your goals this quarter. It’s fine that you didn’t achieve all of them; I just thought we could go through them to see where you could have done better. I think your goals might be too aggressive, for next time, what I would do is set only 2 goals instead of 5. That way, you’ll be able to focus exclusively on those 2.
7. An Employee Doesn’t Take Initiative When you’re giving feedback about this one, remember to:
- Tell them how it affects you
- Offer help and advice
Here’s what you can say: I notice that you’re not taking as much initiative as you used to be. That makes me feel like I did something wrong. Did I say or do anything recently to upset you?
8. An Employee Has Poor Time Management Time management is a tough thing to get right, and is a constant process of optimization, but if it’s becoming a problem, then you’ll need to give them some feedback. When you’re giving feedback about this one, remember to:
- Tell them how it affects the team
- Offer tips
Here’s what you can say: I’ve been noticing that you weren’t able to manage your time for the last 3 tasks. Other people on the team weren’t able to get their work done and so it created some issues for other departments. We’ll figure out how to get it fixed for next time though. I used to have that problem too, but then I discovered a tool to help with that. Personally, I use a tool called RescueTime, it’s been a life-saver. I’d recommend trying it and seeing how you can optimize your time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JACOB SHRIAR
Jacob is the Growth Manager of Officevibe, an employee engagement platform. When he’s not reinventing the world over a glass of scotch, he likes to find new skills to learn.