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Providing Effective Feedback in the Workplace

Updated on July 12, 2014

Giving effective feedback is an important function of a manager to promote healthy communication within the workplace. It ensures that employees are informed on how well they have been doing and provided with timely and appropriate guidance to further improve their performance.

However, many managers view feedback as a daunting task. They are afraid that telling an associate about his weaknesses and shortcomings might result in adverse confrontation or ignite bad feelings against their leadership. Neither is true.

If carried out effectively, feedback encourages openness within the workplace and promotes constructive approach in fine-tuning staff performance to the company's goals, objectives and core values. It nurtures interactive learning and progressive development not only among employees but also among managers as they too should welcome feedback about their performance from subordinates.

Essentially, feedback answers three basic questions:

  1. What did you do well?
  2.  What you did not do well? and
  3. Where you need to develop?

Feedback, therefore, is not just about giving negative comments. It should also acknowledge admirable traits and performance and extend guidance on how an associate could perform better in the workplace.  

So here are practical tips managers can learn to improve their feedback approach.

Giving negative feedback

While it is recommended that all feedback are given in private, negative feedback should be given in a strictly confidential manner. Never embarrass an associate by pointing out his misdemeanours or bad performance during a staff meeting. Negative feedback should point out the specific negative behaviour or action committed by the concerned associate. Be straightforward and avoid general illustrations.

However, managers should be very careful in ensuring that a negative feedback is given constructively. They should also offer suggestions for improving future performance. Giving a positive feedback ahead of the negative, can boost the morale of an associate and prepares him to receive the negative feedback in a positive way.

Giving positive feedback

Recognizing good performance serves as a positive reinforcement that encourages an associate to feel good and strive to do even better in the workplace. In giving a positive feedback, managers should objectively and professionally identify the areas where an associate performed well and explain how his competence contributes positively in achieving the company’s mission, goals or objectives.  

In both cases, feedback should be delivered as an interactive process. The manager should check if the feedback is clearly understood and encourage the associate to express his own views on the feedback as well as his plans to improve his performance.

One last note, feedback should not be considered as a seasonal exercise. Feedback works best when observed regularly in the workplace; it should be given as soon as possible to achieve the intended result: that is influencing staff growth and development.


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      Ddaley 3 years ago

      If your heart is in the right place when giving "Negative feedback" Its not negative at all rather its constructive, which means you are offering the feedback in way that assumes it will be productive. There is no place for negative criticism in the workplace.

    • brandasaur profile image

      brandasaur 5 years ago from Planet X

      Even though i only work at home as freelance graphic designer, im sure i could use your tips to my part time workers.. :) Thanks, great hub!