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How to Adequately Provide Feedback that Leads to Learning

Managers need to give feedback to address both successes and failures. This is a clear and quick way to encourage a change in behavior, but it can be challenging to do.

Not only is uncomfortable, but it can be hard to give feedback when you’re busy or it’s not top of mind. However, feedback helps the company to grow because it allows employees to continuously learn‚ without even having a formal learning program.

When employees know what they’ve done wrong or right, they’re able to gain greater perspective on how they can be more successful. In the feedback process, they’ve also likely learned how their work affects the business and what tools or actions would allow them to remedy the failure or repeat the success in the future.

As such, feedback is critical to learning, and not giving it holds both your employees and the company back. If you struggle with giving it, use the following tips make it a regular part of your interaction with employees.

Master Your Delivery

Feedback needs to be constructive, whether it’s positive or negative, in order for employees to learn and become more effective at work. Giving vague feedback, like: “Your presentation the other day could have been better,” can be seen as hurtful, and provides no insight for the employee to take into their next presentation.

Instead, use this criteria from High Speed Training to deliver impactful feedback:

  • Start with the positive
  • Be specific
  • Be objective
  • Give actionable advice
  • Make feedback frequent
  • Communicate face-to-face

When your feedback meets all of this criteria, you can improve performance, develop better relationships, and nurture a work environment built on growing and learning from one another.

Create a Feedback Structure

Giving feedback as a manager will be easier if you’ve done your homework. Before having a talk with your employee, take time to understand what you’re addressing and why. This allows you to provide concise, well-rounded feedback that the employee can act on.

The best way to do this every time you give feedback is to develop a structure that’s consistently used. Communication experts at Hubgets suggest the following feedback format as a starting point:

  • Announce the discussion in advance, so that people come in mentally prepared (if there are multiple people involved)
  • Equally stress the right and wrong in their work
  • Ground your views on data and provide clear examples
  • Listen to and hear the other person
  • Agree on the next steps and actions
  • Suggest a second meeting to diffuse fears, if you notice meltdowns

Structured feedback is the best way to change behavior and encourage continuous learning.

Be Consistent

In the State of Employee Engagement Report, 32 percent of employees say they have to wait more than three months to get feedback from their manager. Yet, 96 percent of employees say that receiving feedback regularly is important. To take it one step further, if you’re  worried about giving too much negative feedback, 83 percent of employees say they appreciate all feedback, good and bad.

The good news is, you can easily give more feedback and you don’t need to give a full review every time you do. Share a quick statement in a meeting or when you’re standing next to an employee getting coffee.

To keep it formal, set up weekly or bi-monthly 1-on-1s with each employee that you manage. This ensures that you have time to give feedback regularly, keeping the lines of communication open and giving employees the insights they’re looking for.

Focus on Real-Time Feedback

You may think you give enough feedback with annual reviews, but your employees think differently. In fact, 94 percent of employees would prefer their manager address mistakes and development opportunities in the moment, “which enables more agility through coaching and behavior changes to address skills gaps and shifting strategies,” says Reflektive.

You can provide feedback in the form of praise in front of other employees, or pull the person aside to share more critical remarks. Doing this in the moment ensures that the situation is fresh in your mind, and the mind of the employee, which makes it a more powerful learning opportunity.

Give Feedback, Encourage Learning

The more feedback employees receive, they better they’ll be at their job because praise and criticism both allow for learning and growing. If you’re not comfortable with giving feedback, and therefore don’t give it enough, use these tips to make it a regular part of your job. Employees want to hear your insights and the company will benefit as everyone grows in their role.