The term “employee feedback” doesn’t trigger pleasant memories in most employees. In fact, quite contrarily, it is mostly considered as the harbinger of discomfort, anxiety, and harsh criticism raining down from supervisors.
However, a healthy feedback loop is what sustains long-term growth. It makes one aware of where change is necessary and the challenges that must be addressed to achieve holistic development.
That being said, we understand it’s not always easy to figure out how to dole out feedback that promotes growth without damaging employee morale.
This blog lists the ins and outs of employee feedback with 20 great examples depicting a wide range of scenarios you can possibly undergo.
We hope by the time you reach the end, you’ll be able to choose the right feedback for your coworkers and apply it in real-time.
Table of Contents
What is Employee Feedback?
Any interaction within a group of supervisors or peers that evaluates an employee’s skills, performance, and team working abilities can be termed employee feedback. A considerate, well-balanced feedback system can strengthen the working spirit of team members. This, in turn, enhances the overall harmony of a workplace by several notches.
Although generally associated with a negative connotation, feedback can be both positive (reinforcing) and negative. They each have their own importance in reinforcing good behavior, detecting ongoing issues, and ensuring the team runs smoothly.
With workplace policies shifting towards being more empathetic, the bleakness of negative feedback has now transformed into constructive criticism, aka redirecting feedback. Redirecting feedback quite literally “redirects” the team members towards betterment and offers them the opportunity to resolve all shortcomings through healthy discussions.
We’ll see the importance of employee feedback in detail in the next section. Let’s dive in!
Importance of Employee Feedback
Employee feedback paves the path for a healthier, efficient work environment and allows teams to reach their maximum potential while working towards a goal. It also clarifies what’s expected of employees and supports them in their roles.
The importance of positive feedback is obvious – it makes the receiver more committed to displaying positive behavior, more confident of their contributions, and more likely to engage with their workplace.
On the flip side, constructive criticism is equally significant in breaking undesirable patterns, filling gaps in efficiency, and guiding employees toward perfection.
The sum total of the importance of feedback in a workplace can be succinctly categorized as follows:
1. Promotes Positive Growth
Often, people cannot see beyond what their own perspectives allow. A third-person opinion, in that case, can widen the vision and offer a well-rounded, complete view of the entire situation. Feedback allows employees to see themselves in a different light and probe deep into their actions.
This promotes the overall growth of individual employees while shifting the total team productivity towards a positive trend.
2. Forges Transparency & Trust
A culture of regular feedback in the workplace reduces the chances of misunderstandings and related conflicts. Everybody being on the same page promotes trust, strengthens professional bonds, and ensures psychological safety for all members involved. A workplace that’s highly gratifying and empathetic, in turn, boosts employee productivity.
3. Reduces Friction
Another reason a feedback-rich culture is essential for workplaces is that it brings all contentions to the open and provides a chance for them to resolve healthily. Feedback opens communication channels multi-directionally. This makes it all the easier to reduce tension through discussions.
As an immediate benefit, the practice settles the immediate concerns. The long-term impact, however, is that it opens avenues to avoid unhealthy conflicts in the future.
4. Boosts Employee Engagement
Employees may lose interest in their work when they receive no clear feedback from their supervisors. Even if not explicitly stated, without the right feedback, it’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of daily tasks and stagnate. Inculcating a culture of regular evaluation is a great way to increase employee involvement and retain them.
5. Increases Feelings of Being Valued
“Care personally; don’t put people in boxes and leave them there.”
― Kim Scott, ‘Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity”
Formulating useful feedback for everyone and delivering it with empathy takes time and considerable effort. It shows you are genuinely concerned about your employees’ progress rather than just offering blanket criticism. This also provides people the chance to learn and grow – something that ultimately drives high employee performance and, by extension, the organization’s growth.
20 Employee Feedback Examples
Now that we’ve seen all the ways feedback can impact an employee, it’s time to explore some examples of employee feedback that you can use.
Feedback can be classified as both Reinforcing (Positive) and Redirecting (Constructive). Here is a complete rundown of both types, as well as instances that open up the opportunity of providing one.
Positive or Reinforcing Feedback
As the name suggests, reinforcing feedback “reinforces” an employee’s good behaviors, actions, and positive impacts to drive them further toward maintaining the streak.
Reinforcing (positive) feedback validates employee efforts and harnesses the brain’s reward circuit, among other things. As an inherent biological motivator, the reward system greatly enhances the chances of a particular positive action being repeated in the future.
Listed below are some scenarios you may encounter in your workplace and some positive feedback examples to match.
1. Employee Action Aligns with a Core Value
Core company values indicate a set of fundamental, guiding principles that almost all companies adopt. These values help reach a set goal seamlessly through better workplace ethics, team working abilities, and harmonious association among all team members.
Core values can include a wide range of qualities and differ for each workplace. Some universally prevalent ones are honesty, loyalty, compassion, integrity, accountability, innovation, etc.
If an employee displays any of the desired traits, it warrants positive feedback from you to assure them of being on the right track.
For example, you could say:
“You have exhibited great leadership skills at today’s client meeting. The situation called for thinking on the fly to come up with an idea so innovative that it’d instantly persuade the client, and you have performed extremely well even under tremendous pressure. We laud you for setting such a great example that also resonates with our core values”.
2. Excellent Performance
When an employee goes above and beyond to achieve a goal, reinforcing feedback comes as an immediate reward. This ensures employee satisfaction and paves the path for similar future endeavors.
If you are praising an employee for their performance, it’s better to be direct, precise, and mention exactly what is being applauded.
This establishes your effort in carefully considering and outlining your employees’ skills.
A great way to compliment your employee on their performance would be:
“Great job with today’s presentation! I hear the clients were thrilled and believe this would lead to many further pleasant collaborations in the future. Your creativity, skills, and contributions to the company are all duly noted with appreciation.”
3. Helping Peers
When an employee helps their peers without expecting an immediate benefit, it promotes a culture of cooperation and selflessness. This ultimately helps build better teams and propels overall company growth.
You can encourage a collaborative culture in your office by creating opportunities that call for help from all team members.
Some team-building activities that you can corporate to imbibe the practice of mutual help among your colleagues are
- Brainstorming sessions
- Discussion panels
- Team projects
- Group presentations, etc.
Reinforcing feedback in such instances helps drive the practice further. One example you can use is:
“I was informed that you stayed beyond your work time to help out your peers with their presentation last week. We are extremely proud of your selfless cooperation in ensuring all your teammates perform to the best of their abilities. We are honored to have you with us, and your gesture is greatly appreciated!”
4. After a Business Endeavor Succeeds
All companies want to succeed at what they have undertaken, be it a short-term project or a long-term growth goal. Employees are integral to achieving what a business strives to achieve, and you must recognize their efforts once you have reached your set benchmarks.
Positive feedback in such cases can make your teammates aware of their contributions and feel valued as a significant cog in the entire process. This may also encourage your employees to seek out similar opportunities, tasks, and situations where they can shine and excel.
An example you can use as inspiration is:
“ We are pleased with your contributions towards making our latest project a success. Your client handling, on-the-feet thinking, and innovative approach were really impressive and admirable, and we are proud of your achievements. Keep up the good work!”
5. Getting Back On Course After a Significant Setback
Employees, as humans, face challenges from time to time. Some may fall sick, have a hard time adjusting to a new role, or see a dip in overall performance.
These are all setbacks that can throw a member off course. However, once you see signs of them gradually ascending to the ideal productivity level, it’s important to recognize the hard work and extra effort that it must have taken.
Regardless of the circumstances that set off the improvement, find a way to welcome your employees back while validating their struggles. The recognition will almost certainly set a continued upward trend in their performance graphs.
Remember to make your appreciation appear personal, specific, and upbeat to allay any trepidation about underperforming.
If you see your teammate improving their ways, here’s how you can congratulate them on their return:
“I know you were/are going through a hard time that affected your performance, but I am greatly pleased to see your efforts lately in ensuring the operations go smoothly. I have always had faith in your skills as a team member, and your hard work convinces me that you will overcome all challenges and continue to perform well in the coming days.”
6. Efficient Conflict Resolution
Conflict is a natural occurrence in every workplace. While seemingly unpleasant, conflicts are actually quite helpful in bringing out grievances and different perspectives on an issue.
That being said, it’s also important to see that conflicts are resolved through healthy discussions. The resolution should also bring out traits like professional behavior, emotional intelligence, and reasoning skills in an employee.
If any of your team members handle an altercation positively, offer positive feedback to encourage them to handle it similarly during all future conflicts.
An example of positive feedback in such an instance would be:
“I’m impressed with the way you handled a critical situation in the office today. Your approach was calm, professional, and really down-to-earth. I believe your input greatly benefited your colleagues as well, and we can see an efficient solution has come to light with your take on the matter. Well done!”
7. Showing Personal Growth
Everybody struggles with something, despite being successful in other aspects of their professional lives. If your teammate actively works on overcoming it, they certainly deserve recognition for their efforts.
A note of appreciation in such cases also assures everyone that they can openly discuss their obstacles without being judged.
An example of what you can say is:
“I know how much you have struggled with confidently putting your ideas forward in the past. I’m very pleased to see how far you have come, as was evident in today’s client meeting when you calmly stated all your ideas and had them heard by everybody present. You’ve really worked on yourself, and it shows! Keep up the good work!”
8. Displaying Excellent Organizational Skills
Organizational skills in an employee are usually displayed through some minor and not-so-minor habits. An organized worker usually has a clean workspace, an ever-ready to-do list, projects spanned out evenly throughout their schedule, an ability to meet deadlines, and so on.
While one’s personal style cannot be imposed on others, it certainly doesn’t hurt to encourage all your employees to develop better organizational skills. A surefire way to do that is to offer reinforcing feedback whenever someone displays this behavior.
An example you can use is:
“We are awestruck at how you took the planning & arrangement for the conference on your shoulders and executed it with utmost perfection. We were initially apprehensive about everything being in place and on time, but you have shown exemplary organizational skills in handling it all. Way to go!”
9. Boosting Team Morales
Employees may sometimes feel lost, overwhelmed, or just low in general and may need a supportive presence to boost their morale. Whether it’s a project that’s not going as planned or a lag while working towards workplace goals, office blues do creep in from time to time.
It’s important to mitigate the lax before it affects performance. A general appreciation goes a long way in simply confirming that your employee is still doing well.
If a coworker is feeling low, you could try saying something along the lines of:
“Hey, we know you’ve been feeling slightly under the weather the past few days, and the situation with your mother being sick doesn’t help either. This is to let you know that despite the ongoing hardships, your contributions are greatly appreciated and that you are welcome to approach us for any aid you may require in this battle. Take care!”
10. Having an Excellent Attendance Report
Attendance is a crucial parameter for determining employee efficiency in every workplace. A poor attendance record directly reflects an individual’s work ethic. Taking leaves too often also means extra work for colleagues who already have their own share of work to deal with.
This can lead to decreased team morale and a plunge in overall performance.
It’s important to reinforce regular attendance in employees with positive feedback and gestures of appreciation. For example, you may say:
“We appreciate your regular presence and enthusiasm in attending all day-to-day activities on time. Your dedication and discipline are truly admirable, and we look forward to having you work with us every day in the future!”
Constructive or Redirecting Feedback
Constructive or redirecting feedback is usually issue-specific and is aimed at rectifying problematic behavior. It is offered with the intent of improving employee performance and alleviating any observed decline in a worker’s conduct.
A part of maintaining a healthy workplace culture is identifying what doesn’t benefit the employee or the company and taking appropriate redressal measures.
Although potentially discomforting, delivering your verdict with tact, empathy, and definitiveness will ultimately make for a much more productive work environment.
Below are some common scenarios where you may need to provide constructive feedback and examples of its ideal articulations.
1. Ongoing Behavioral Issues
It’s tough for all employees to be on the same page in every situation, but behavioral problems start when altercations aren’t resolved with mutual respect. Other instances may be repeated offensive humor, overtly argumentative statements, poor attendance, and the like.
Behavioral problems span a large area and can be many things, from minute to major. However, in all instances, it’s crucial to intervene at the early stages to understand the root causes and remit them immediately.
Here’s an example of what you can say to a colleague displaying repeated unwanted behaviors:
“I have noticed a recent shift in your behavior the last few weeks where you have engaged in frequent arguments with your peers. I am sure you are not doing it on purpose, but this is not acceptable communication and may undermine our overall workplace harmony and business authority. I’d like to discuss this with you in greater detail this week; let me know when you would be available for a meeting in my office.”
2. Failure to Meet Goals
Failing to meet goals is an unpleasant scenario for any employee; discussing it with a manager is even tougher. However, a discussion is absolutely necessary to understand why it happened in the first place and devise ways to prevent this from being repeated.
Feedback in such cases is the most productive when it’s bidirectional – a two-way conversation allows a deeper probe into the underlying issues for a more efficient resolution.
Here is how you can offer constructive feedback and set up a discussion with an employee at the same time:
“This is a gentle reminder that the goals set by the company are incredibly important for achieving our objectives. However, we have observed that you failed to meet what is expected of you thrice in a row. This is a cause for concern, and we’d like to discuss why this might be happening and prevent it from becoming a habit.”
3. Being Dismissive of Peer Inputs
Not being open to inputs from colleagues poses a serious problem in the way of growth. Even worse, it opens up the scope for workplace rivalry, disharmony, and conflict. This can poorly impact work dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and overall company growth.
If an employee displays repeated instances of not taking others’ opinions into consideration, it’s time to have a discussion. Offer feedback to redirect the behavior into one that’s productive, respectful of others, and beneficial to the work culture as a whole.
An example of what you can say here is:
“It’s important to let you know that we value your ideas and suggestions on our projects, and they are highly fruitful when employed. However, we believe you must extend your colleagues the same courtesy and be more receptive to what they have to say. In saying this, our most recent brainstorming session comes to mind when you didn’t let your peer finish his presentation and cut him off. This has not been accepted well by any of the attendees and can greatly affect our company dynamics. I hope you are more mindful in the upcoming sessions and do not repeat the same pattern again.”
4. Repeated Errors in Work
“To err is human” — that’s an adage we are all familiar with, and it is so because errors are universally common. However, when errors are repeated more often than they should, it’s time to identify why. This also helps your team member reinstate themselves on the right path before causing irreversible damage.
Constructive feedback is a useful tool for all parties to recognize, acknowledge, and rectify what went wrong. It helps the erring employee see the areas that need improvement and address them to avoid future repetitions of the same.
If in a similar situation, here’s an example of how you can get your point across with tact:
“I acknowledge the challenging nature of your work, and I know errors are inevitable when dealing with numbers. However, I cannot help but notice that the frequency of mistakes in your papers has increased lately, and that concerns me greatly. If there is a problem that’s keeping you distracted, please feel free to reach out to the HR team or me at any time. I’d also request you to thoroughly review all the documents and double-check them before submitting to minimize the mistakes as much as possible.”
5. Showing Inadequate Communication Skills
Communication builds the foundation of any professional relationship and can potentially make or break the company’s progress if deployed at a crucial juncture.
Poor communication can manifest in many damaging ways, including instances where one cannot defend their views healthily, has inappropriate responses, misses important verbal/non-verbal cues, etc.
That being said, how people express themselves is also deeply personal to them, and it can be tricky to convince someone to abandon their habits altogether. Redirecting feedback can help your coworkers be at least aware of what they should work on.
For example, you could say:
“I have observed a pattern where you are sometimes too persuasive with our clients while pitching a service. While we do want to increase our sales, being too pushy can have the opposite effect and drive customers away. I’d really appreciate it if you could readjust your communication to a more neutral, pleasant stance when it comes to communicating with them.”
6. Haphazard Prioritization of Tasks
Productivity is closely linked to planning, and a significant part of planning is knowing how to segment tasks according to their importance.
Although seemingly simple, many employees struggle with the correct prioritization of tasks. This leads to a continued derailing of efficiency and reduced productivity.
If you see a colleague struggling to sort their daily work hierarchically, an appropriate feedback session may be in order.
For example, you can try saying this:
“I am aware that you’ve had a lot to deal with this month as we are expanding onto new projects, but I believe that the handling could have been easier with better prioritization of your work. A lot of time had been spent performing less important tasks while others fell behind, which affected your time management and the team’s overall efficiency. I’d suggest you schedule your tasks after evaluating their importance carefully or talk to the project manager to take more well-informed decisions about your deliverables.”
7. Being Consistently Late to Work
Tardiness isn’t a welcome habit in any area of life, and more so in organizations. With repeated instances of being late to work, it becomes an issue that needs prompt attention and mitigation.
It is important to make your employees aware that their habit affects their performance, undermines the integrity of the organization and impact how others perceive the situation as well.
Before taking disciplinary measures, you can start by giving feedback like this:
“I appreciate that you are a hard-working employee and have been dedicatedly striving for everyone’s betterment since you joined. However, you are often late in reaching the office nowadays, and it is not setting an ideal example for others who are arriving on time. While being late for a day or two is understandable, it becoming a habit is not. I’d appreciate it if you could work on your daily schedule to ensure you arrive on time every day henceforth.”
8. Persistent Decline in Performance
Ebbs and flow in an employee’s performance is a normal occurrence. However, a steady decline in productivity is alarming. It’s important to identify the reasons and address them while they are still nascent to set your worker back on the right track.
A discussion revolving around the poor performance record is necessary to air out grievances or areas they may be struggling with. In that case, you can offer them the required feedback while still offering an opportunity for them to express their impediments.
For example, you could say:
“I have always been proud of your records as an honest, hardworking, and productive employee of the organization. However, your recent performance trend has been less than satisfactory, and I’d greatly appreciate it if we could discuss the reasons to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Kindly let me know of a time when it’d be convenient to set up a meeting regarding this.”
9. Frequent Occurrences of Misconduct
In an office space, what’s defined as misconduct can range from mildly aggravating to criminally offensive. It can be procrastination, disinterest, and rude replies to something as grave as sexual harassment.
Of course, the correctional measures depend on the action’s severity. But you can strive to eradicate some of the problematic behaviors early on with appropriate constructive feedback.
An example of such a scenario and the feedback that follows is:
“Several of your colleagues have expressed their explicit discomfort over the sexist jokes you often make during office hours, and we’re afraid we find this behavior extremely disrespectful and unacceptable. The company has a clear set of ethics and guidelines that we all must follow to ensure a healthy work environment for all our employees, and it is a direct violation of the codes. Kindly meet the HR team after lunch hours to discuss the same.”
10. Disengagement from Daily Activities
Boredom and disinterest creep in for many reasons. But you must assess what’s causing an employee to disengage from their assigned roles early on before the organization incurs a loss.
From disturbances in personal life to issues in the workplace, the reasons can be varied. However, it is bound to affect the quality of work, in-office interactions, and productivity if left unchecked for long.
What can you say to address it? Here’s an example:
“I couldn’t help but notice that your engagement with the work has lessened considerably, and you are not as excited about your role as you once were. I’d like to know if there’s anything we could support you with or if you need a readjustment of your responsibilities to accommodate you better. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, conflicts, or confusion regarding the current work.”
Tips for Giving Effective Employee Feedback
Now that we have gone through a varied number of scenarios that may require feedback, it is time to master the art of delivering feedback with the utmost effectiveness.
1. Be Mindful of the Timing, Specificity & Relevance
Offering feedback on a task completed months ago has little effect on the employee or the work. Not providing feedback on time to well-performing employees may cause them to lose interest, while underperforming employees won’t know where to pick up the slack.
Make sure to voice your opinions while the topic is still relevant, and your words can impact the outcome of the project in some way. Remember to point out specifically what you like or do not like about the performance and the business outcomes that may arise out of it subsequently.
2. Make Sure to Listen
The motive of feedback is identifying problems, if there are any, and working to resolve them. You must provide your employees with the chance to explain themselves and understand how the feedback has been received. Two-way communication also establishes trust that encourages a culture of feedback, appreciation, and honesty.
3. Handle Negative Reviews with Caution
Constructive feedback is sensitive and can impact the listener negatively if offered publicly or with a criticizing perspective. Be sympathetic and understanding while precisely pointing out the specific issues rather than vaguely outlining flaws.
4. Offer Actionable Feedback
Too many insights with no plan of action will only demoralize your employees and make them feel lost. Offer feedback in a way that clearly states what can be done to address the current problems. You can also plan the steps that must be taken to avoid future repetitions together to drive the point home.
5. Receive Feedback from Your Employees
It’s always a good idea to keep communication open for both sides. This ensures no oversights happen on your end regarding areas where you may need improvement. Conduct monthly or quarterly surveys, anonymous feedback sessions, and pulse surveys to understand employee sentiments. This, in turn, will make your team more open to receiving feedback as a regular part of the culture.
How to Create a Feedback Culture in the Workplace
Feedback must be seen as an indispensable part of growth, not as an anxiety-inducing monster. But it takes considerable planning, time, and effort. Below are some plans of action you may adopt to induce a feedback culture in your workplace easily.
1. Keep Your Employees in the Loop
Springing a sudden feedback course on your employees can reduce its effectiveness. Instead, hold detailed discussions on the type of feedback systems you want, what their benefits are, and why feedback should be encouraged on all levels – including peer reviews. This is to keep your workers on the same page and ensure better receptivity and responses all around.
2. Create a System for Regular Feedback Exchange
Having an established system of giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis will reinforce the habit and make it permanent. Frequent employee engagement surveys, dedicated meetings at set intervals for reviews, and employee recognition software are some of the approaches that can help establish a feedback culture in an organization.
3. Set an Example
Your employees may refuse to be open to feedback if they do not see you receiving it gladly. Ask for reviews from your employees, often in full view of everyone else. Show your appreciation, disagreements, or counter feedback exactly in the way you’d want your employees to do it.
4. Forge Trust
It’s easier for your employees to receive feedback from someone they trust. Practice listening with an open mind, empathy, and infuse the feedback sessions with positivity. This is to assure your colleagues that you genuinely care for them and want only the best in terms of performance.
5. Allow Positives to Outweigh the Negatives
Too often, constructive feedback starts sounding like blatant criticism and breeds hostility in the listener. It closes them off from any potential changes and may make them feel even more disconnected. You need not sugarcoat the areas where improvement is needed, but make sure to let them know that their good behaviors are noticed and appreciated as well.
Ready to Set Off a Stellar Employee Feedback Culture?
All things considered, we now know how crucial employee feedback is to a healthy, progressive work dynamic. For a long time, the term feedback remained a colossal elephant in the room that nobody wanted to face, but things are changing for the better.
Feedback is as nuanced as it’s delicate, and giving it out with the required tact at all times is not a cakewalk. Fortunately, with more empathy prevailing in offices, robust feedback systems, and a variety of tips and tricks, the process is now much easier than it used to be.
To quote A. Douglas Stone –
“It doesn’t matter how much authority or power a feedback giver has; the receivers are in control of what they do and don’t let in, how they make sense of what they’re hearing, and whether they choose to change.”
We hope this blog helped you gain an in-depth understanding of all the nitty-gritty details that employee feedback is filled with. Now, all you need to do is implement the strategies and witness the change that unfolds!