Employee Feedback – The Good, Bad, and Truth

Employee Feedback Session

In today's workplace, feedback is more important than ever. With the rise of remote work and virtual teams, managers must make an effort to give timely and meaningful feedback to their teams. 

But why exactly is feedback in the workplace so important?

Here are a few key reasons:

  • Feedback helps employees understand what they're doing well and where to improve.
  • It sets expectations with your team around how to perform collaborations.
  • It builds trust and credibility between managers and team members.
  • It can boost employee morale and engagement.
  • It promotes open communication within the team.

If you still need to incorporate regular employee feedback into your management style, now is the time to start! Your employees will thank you for it.

What’s Good & What Needs to Improve

Supportive, constructive feedback from a manager or supervisor can be an invaluable resource for employees to lift their performance in the workplace. 

Not only does feedback help workers recognize what they are doing well, but it guides them to identify areas for incremental improvement and stay focused on reaching their goals. Your feedback is like guardrails for your team members' path up the mountain of their career within your department or company. It keeps them safe, and allows for understanding how work will be accomplished and what to adjust.

Tailor your feedback directly to each employee's needs to ensure that it is practical, motivating, and uplifting. When utilized appropriately, feedback can drastically enhance an employee'semployee's capabilities, enriching their experience at work and cultivating a productive work environment, and offering them psychological safety.

Drive a Culture of Success.

Effective feedback is essential to the success of any organization. 

No one wants to be on the receiving end of an uncomfortable conversation. Providing honest, constructive feedback can benefit both the employee and the company culture

As a result, it is crucial to have an efficient system in place for giving employees feedback respectfully and encouragingly. In a direct way it can drive employee engagment through your feedback culture. There is substantantial research supporting how all of this deeply improves employee engagement from entry level to the c-suite, being heardis found to be more important than compensation, to a point.

Written and verbal communication are two powerful forms of feedback.

  • Written feedback such as emails, performance reports, and letters can help you clearly communicate expectations. Providing concrete examples of successes or areas needing improvement is important. This is the best method when sharing uplifting, positive feedback. Try to do your best to avoid this form of communication when sharing delicate or more developmental feedback. This prevents misunderstandings around the feedback transmitted and allows the opportunity to offer clarification. This communication prevents the recipient from guessing the details of concepts that came across as unclear.
  • Verbal communication (meetings, video chats, phone calls) also has benefits. It allows employers to be more personable when conveying their message while providing ample opportunity for meaningful dialogue. You should always follow up on verbal communication by documenting it in writing. This habit allows for easy review of feedback as your team members develop.

Using both forms of feedback appropriately can help build trust and get everyone on the same page.

“Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.”

Doc Rivers

Types of employee feedback

Regardless of the format you deliver the feedback in – it's typically going to fall into the categories below:

  1. Praise (Appreciation)
  2. Criticism
  3. Evaluation or Formal
  4. Informal
  5. Encouragement

Praise (Appreciation) feedback

The most positive feedback typically offered in the workplace is essential to any successful organization. Focusing on what employees do well and recognizing their efforts can significantly improve engagement and motivation. Be sure to offer praise frequently and with intentionality.

Don't offer praise over everything but be mindful about praising in public in front of team members or colleagues when appropriate. Be careful, as some team members may be uncomfortable with public displays of appreciation, be sure to know how your recipient likes to receive positive feedback.


Tailor constructive criticism or negative feedback to each employee. Deliver these privately with care, compassion, and intention, distinguishing them from positive feedback.

Unless it is a global issue concerning a team and its overall performance, that would be the only acceptable time to share such feedback with a group. Ensure to include everyone if it is a collective shortcoming of expectations.

Use careful attention and consideration when providing feedback; deep thoughtfulness is essential. When offering negative feedback, tailor it specifically toward particular behaviors or issues. Suggest ways to address, solve, or overcome the situation. This is a time for collaboration and cohesion around solutions working towards being problem solvers, not focusing on the problems themselves.

Leadership Evaluation

Evaluation feedback generally updates an employee on their role performance. It informs employees about expectations, job security, and how they are performing overall. We encourage using this as an ideal time to build your relationship and trust with your team member by discussing their journey within your team and ensuring you are aligned with their professional aspirations.

Evaluations are an opportunity to reassure workers that they are performing well, reinforce their role, and offer guidance on professional progression.

This feedback session is also a great way to discuss areas of improvement for them but, even more importantly, for them to offer feedback to you as their leader. Effective evaluation feedback can help improve management and employee performance, supporting growth and professional development.

We cover this in more depth a little further on.

Evaluation feedback can be given frequently to monitor an employee's performance and keep them in the loop. You may wish to use metrics that compare the employee with their coworkers, and you may even want to use a ranking system.


Informal feedback focuses on short quick affirmations or suggestions for improvement in simple ways. Never to require deep discussion. Think of this as fast, in the moment, or recent feedback on something relevant, remaining topical.

This feedback can be an impromptu office drop-in or in passing. Don't share more than you would while pouring a top-up of coffee. 

Photo of men having conversation - Photo by nappy on Pexels

Sharing Hard Feedback

Giving effective feedback is essential to helping others learn and grow. Practicing managers and supervisors should always strive to make sure their critical feedback is concise, specific, objective, and actionable.

It helps individuals receive critical feedback when delivered with brevity (concise) and guard-railed expectations (specific), followed by examples of where the feedback has proven useful or productive when implemented elsewhere (objective) and which actions to take moving forward (actionable). 

If changes were implemented before feedback is shared, explain clear reasons for the changes. This feedback also allows the evaluator to point out any potential areas for improvement more clearly than broad criticism would.

Tailoring feedback to the individual situation can help the receiver understand the lesson being taught more quickly and easily, allowing them to get back on track and reach their goals faster.

Upward feedback and reviews

Upward feedback is when an employee gives their supervisor or manager feedback on how they are doing in their job. This type of feedback can be helpful for supervisors and managers to understand what employees need from them and provide employees with the opportunity to voice their opinions. It could be considered a “reverse” performance review.

Employee feedback can help you identify areas that need improvement and make changes that will positively impact the organization.

By regularly soliciting feedback, you can create an environment of continuous improvement and learn new ways to support your team better. This is also one of the best methods of developing deeper trust with your team. 

However, remember that It is vital to have clear expectations and create a comfortable atmosphere for employees to feel safe expressing their thoughts and ideas. 

The most important aspect of allowing space for this feedback type is activating it. Continue the upward feedback with who you report if it isn't something you directly control. 

If it is something you can manage to effect change, be sure to share your action plan and keep the team member sharing feedback on how things are progressing. 

Benefits of Regular Employee Feedback

Employees who receive feedback feel more engaged with their work and are likelier to stay with the company as they believe they are actively participatory in its inner workings. Regular, encouraging, constructive feedback can be a potent motivator for employees. Let's be clear; negative feedback can be delivered with encouragement. Team members receiving feedback should always feel supported. 

Consider what you plan to share and reframe it if you feel torn down or deflated should someone share the same feedback. 

Not only does it make your team feel better informed and involved in the company's goals, helping them feel more engaged with their work, but it has been proven to boost morale and creates a greater sense of job satisfaction.

Such practices also support talent retention with a company over time versus those who do not. Team members stay as they can learn, grow, and develop within their roles. 

Co-workers in a casual office laughing - Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Where do I start?

By taking the steps outlined above, leaders can ensure they deliver effective feedback that helps team members grow and develop in their roles while fostering a positive working environment and psychological safety.

Feedback Considerations

Before providing an employee with feedback, it is essential to consider the goals and objectives of the situation. Should you find yourself leading a team, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why are you giving this feedback? 
  • What is the purpose? 
  • How will this be received? 
  • Is the delivery suitable?

Consider how your message will be received and whether it will likely be productive or counterproductive, given your specific manager-employee relationship context and feedback cadence.

Feedback Delivery

After that's out of the way, planning how you will deliver the feedback is crucial. Your tone and body language can affect how well your message is received. Be professional and respectful throughout the process to ensure a productive outcome.

Next Steps

Ensure the message was received and understood by following up on feedback. Schedule a review session or follow-up conversation to discuss progress and progressive steps, allowing both parties to focus on positives and negatives before the next engagement.

These discussions can open up further talks about how feedback can be used for future growth.

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