How to Provide Feedback to an Employee

A manager demonstrates how to provide feedback to an employee as she meets with a female team member.

Posted on

September 20, 2022



Knowing how to offer feedback to your professionals is a valuable skill that can lead to enhanced workplace performance. However, it may be hard for you as a leader to find the right way to phrase your thoughts without sounding overly critical. Here, we’ll show you how to communicate with your employees in a constructive manner so they get the most out of feedback—whether offered during review periods or at any other time it’s needed.

How to Give Feedback to an Employee

Be timely

Feedback should be provided in a timely manner, preferably when an issue arises, so that the employee has the opportunity to make improvements as quickly as possible, or—in the case of positive feedback—maintain the practices that are working well. If you wait until review periods to offer constructive criticism, the employee may wonder why the issue wasn’t raised earlier, and the details of the event that caused concern may become fuzzy. Offering feedback soon after the event creates the greatest opportunity for the clearest insight and remediation.

Be professional

Each feedback session should be taken seriously by both manager and employee. Set the tone by speaking in a calm, collected manner and keeping the conversation relevant to your critiques. Showing any signs of irritation or anger towards underperforming employees could negatively impact their workplace satisfaction and trust in you as a supervisor, so be sure to avoid verbally lashing out during the meeting.

Provide the facts

Supporting your statements with factual information can help your employees better understand how their actions have impacted the company. Not incorporating opinions into your feedback will also ensure your critiques are free from bias. Facts add an element of fairness to the feedback that can’t be dismissed by the employee being reviewed, so consider providing some specific examples of where they have or haven’t met expectations.

Give context

If your feedback is too vague, the employee may misinterpret your comments and take the wrong lessons away from your meeting. It’s crucial to avoid generalized complaints or compliments when giving critiques. Simply saying someone is doing well or badly at a task doesn’t give them the appropriate context for what specific actions elicited that feedback.

A female employees responds to feedback from her male manager in a meeting.Allow the employee to respond

Managers should take the time to pay attention to their direct reports when offering feedback. There may be situations where an employee can explain why they’ve been underperforming at work. Communicate with your professionals to see if you can assist them with their problems. Taking the time to listen to the employee will also let them feel respected in the workplace.

Balance the negatives with positives

An overwhelmingly negative meeting can significantly impact an employee’s morale. You can still incorporate positivity into the review without sugarcoating the truth, such as highlighting which aspects of the position they excel at. Try coming up with constructive plans during the meeting for how employees can approach their work to end the session on a hopeful note.

Employee Feedback Examples

Below are some examples of how you can provide both positive and negative feedback to employees. 

Positive feedback example 1

“You did a great job handling that customer’s complaint. Staying respectful of the client while calmly discussing the problem stopped the issue from escalating and maintained their brand loyalty. You really upheld our core values in that situation.”

Positive feedback example 2

“Great work on the report you submitted yesterday. I appreciate that you followed our formatting guidelines and completed the assignment before the deadline. The thorough analysis you provided helped support your claims. Thank you for setting a good example for the team.”

Positive feedback example 3

“The presentation you gave at last week’s team meeting was excellent. Your confidence throughout the discussion reinforced your authority on the subject and held everyone’s attention. I also thought the icebreaker activity you included at the start perfectly captured our workplace culture.”

A male manager offers constructive feedback to his female employeeNegative feedback example 1

“It appears you did not meet your sales quota according to your performance metrics from the last quarter. Failing to meet or surpass your quota will impact the organization’s profitability, so we should discuss some strategies you can use to increase your sales for this quarter.”

Negative feedback example 2

“There have been multiple negative reviews by customers mentioning your behavior toward them over the phone. As a representative of our brand, you must avoid creating poor relationships with our clientele. Can you tell me more about what happened in these instances?”

Negative feedback example 3

“An email newsletter was sent out to a large mailing list that contained incorrect information. This was human error, and more time could have been taken to thoroughly check the email before sending it. What processes can we put in place to avoid this in the future?”

Employers should always look out for the best interests of their professionals. Sometimes, the greatest assistance you can give an employee is offering honest, tactfully phrased feedback that helps them improve their skills. Following these guidelines will help you approach your feedback discussions with confidence.INTOO’s coaches help employees in every stage of their career develop strategies to meet their goals, while employers reap the benefits of increased engagement, productivity, and retention. Learn more about how our career development programs can benefit your company.

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

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