11 Best Practices for Giving and Receiving Employee Feedback
February 5, 2024
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Great feedback can be transformative, setting up your team and company for success.
This includes positive feedback, where you recognize a desired behavior or outcome, and negative feedback, where you offer constructive criticism. However, effective feedback is rarely given, leaving missed opportunities for improvement and growth.
Discover 11 best practices to reap the benefits of giving and receiving employee feedback.
In this post:
Why is employee feedback important?
Giving and receiving honest feedback benefits your team members—and your business.
Feedback is essential for:
- Employee development. Constructive employee feedback helps your team members understand where they have room for professional growth so they can develop their skills and competencies
- Employee engagement. Employees who strongly agree they received “meaningful feedback” in the past week are almost 4x more likely than other employees to be engaged
- Transparency. Feedback gives your team members insight into how company leaders perceive their performance and provides an opportunity to respond to those perceptions. This level of transparency builds trust and loyalty
- Employee experience. Collecting employee feedback helps you build a stronger company culture and employee experience that enables your team members to thrive
- Business performance. Highly skilled and engaged teams can be more productive and innovative, leading to better business outcomes
Best practices for giving effective employee feedback
Effective employee feedback is important in developing a highly skilled and engaged team.
Here are some tips to get it right.
Include specific examples
Providing specific and clear employee feedback is crucial for equitable, effective performance management. Share feedback about what your team member does well and what they need to improve, using concrete examples to support your statement. Describing the observed behavior or action in detail and how it impacted the team or project can help team members understand the context around your feedback.
For example, if you praise a team member for providing exceptional customer service, highlight a customer encounter they handled well and why it stood out to you. Or, if you ask a team member to stop interrupting their colleagues during meetings, mention a recent incident where this occurred and why this behavior is problematic. Document these examples as they arise so they can be referenced during your regular performance reviews, and progress can be tracked throughout an employee’s tenure.
If you can’t recollect a specific instance to substantiate your feedback, consider whether your evaluation accurately reflects the employee’s performance.
Provide actionable feedback
Actionable feedback is essential for your team members’ professional growth and development.
Provide both positive reinforcement to encourage employees to keep up their good work, as well as constructive criticism to provide guidance on where improvements can be made.
Be prepared with actionable steps employees can take to improve, but be open to your team member’s suggestions. Each feedback conversation should include a discussion around goals and available resources to help employees achieve them.
For example, telling someone they’re a bad manager isn’t actionable and is more likely to lead to their resignation than it is to help them improve. Instead, share the specific management skills that could use improvement, set professional development goals, and build a development plan to achieve those goals.
By providing actionable feedback, employees will have a clear roadmap for improvement and feel empowered to take ownership of their career development.
Read more: 5 Examples of Employee Development Plans
Keep an open mind
Approach employee performance conversations with an open mind so your team members can correct misinformation, explain their actions, and come up with solutions.
For example, if a direct report isn’t meeting their goals, ask what’s in their way and how you can best support them. They could be dealing with a personal crisis, lacking the tools they need to do their job well, or trying their best to reach unrealistic goals.
Active listening can help you understand the employee’s perspective, build trust, and foster a more collaborative relationship.
Take advantage of teachable moments
Don’t wait to provide feedback during scheduled times, like a one-on-one or performance review. Instead, use teachable moments to give informal feedback when you see a desired behavior or an opportunity for improvement. Timely feedback helps your team members understand why they’re receiving feedback so they can implement it immediately.
For example, offer positive feedback when an employee jumps in to help a struggling team member. This demonstrates your value in teamwork and encourages your employees to ask for help when needed.
You may also offer constructive feedback when someone should’ve asked for help but didn’t. For instance, if an employee sends an external communication with a glaring error, suggest that they rope in a colleague to help them proofread next time.
Create a feedback culture
Managers don’t experience every aspect of their team members’ work first-hand, so they can’t always provide effective feedback when needed.
Creating a feedback culture empowers employees to praise their colleagues for a job well done or offer constructive feedback to help their team members succeed. Encourage open feedback by making time for employee recognition during team meetings, publicizing feedback within internal communication channels, and demonstrating regular feedback from the top down.
For example, a company leader might give an employee shout-out during an all-hands meeting for helping the company reach an important milestone.
“One of the things we’ve started to do is build a kudos channel. So, every time we see a good pitch or reps build a good presentation template, we share it in the kudos channel and make sure the team understands what is this deal? Why are we highlighting this deal? That is very important to apply the learnings and experience to the rest of the team. So we really encouraged that incentive-wise, that support internally and then the cross-regional teamwork. It kind of brings a lot of value and efficiencies.”
–Shuo Wang, Co-Founder and CRO, Deel
Pull it all together for performance reviews
Document employee feedback throughout the year to be referenced during regular performance reviews. This should include manager and 360-degree feedback from colleagues, company leaders, and customers.
Employees shouldn’t be hearing about performance issues for the first time during reviews, though this is an ideal time to discuss progress. Provide recognition for professional growth and highlight where there’s further room for improvement.
Documenting formal feedback helps you conduct fair, effective employee reviews and optimize team members’ performance over time.
Best practices for receiving employee feedback
Asking your team members for feedback can help improve the employee experience, boosting morale, engagement, and retention.
Start asking for feedback early in the employee journey
Just one in four candidates (26 percent) are asked for feedback prior to their start date—but those candidates are 91 percent more willing to increase their relationship out of the gate.
It’s never too early to start collecting employee feedback. Including a new hire survey in your employee pre-boarding and onboarding processes is a great way to gather early feedback. Ask questions about your recruitment process, the candidate experience, your onboarding process, and the candidate’s sense of belonging.
Early feedback can help ensure each team member starts off on the right foot.
Create an open-door policy to receive spontaneous feedback
Your team members should feel welcome to provide feedback directly to their manager, company leaders, and your HR team without fear of repercussions. Institute an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to bring problems, suggestions, or complaints directly to those who can address them.
An open-door policy can help you collect employee feedback in real-time so your team members feel heard and solutions can be quickly implemented.
Use several methods to proactively collect employee feedback
Your employees may not feel comfortable or compelled to offer spontaneous feedback but could be open to giving feedback when prompted.
Offer your team members a variety of ways to provide feedback so you don’t miss out on what they have to say.
- Send a new hire, employee engagement, and Pulse surveys to ask specific questions about the employee experience and where your organization can improve
- Conduct stay interviews and exit interviews to learn what entices your team members to stay at your organization — and what causes them to leave
- Monitor employer review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerBliss, Comparably, and InHerSight to gather public, anonymous feedback
- Add a suggestion box to collect feedback your employees want to share privately and anonymously
Say ‘thank you’
Thank people for their feedback so they know you appreciate their thoughts and opinions—and continue to offer them. This may look different depending on the channel where feedback was received.
When you receive feedback one-on-one, thank the person giving it so they know you appreciate their effort. You may also ask follow-up questions to fully understand the feedback and share next steps to demonstrate your concern and interest in the feedback received.
If you see feedback on an employer review site, leave a comment thanking the person for their review and share a channel for them to provide additional details if they’d like.
Act on employee feedback
Sixty percent of U.S. employees report having a way to provide feedback about their employee experience, but only 30 percent said their feedback was acted upon by their employer. Workers who say their employer acts on their feedback are 4x more likely to stay with the company than employees who don’t think their feedback changes anything.
Asking for feedback lets your employees know you value their input and ideas—but only if you act on them.
Use feedback to implement real change and communicate with your team members. This helps you build a better work environment and encourages your employees to continue providing feedback.
Make a habit of regular employee feedback
Giving and receiving employee feedback can initially feel awkward, whether positive or corrective, but it’ll become second nature with practice. This will help you create a culture where each team member welcomes feedback as an opportunity for continuous learning and improvement.
Discover how the Learning Cloud empowers your team to turn feedback into actionable employee development plans to drive personal growth and organizational success.
Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo.
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Jen DewarWorkRamp Contributor
Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in HR technology, focusing on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her family.
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