9 tips to giving effective employee feedback

What does the word employee feedback conjure up for you? Often, I hear people brace themselves, in anticipation of hearing a difficult message. We can immediately think it is going to be negative. Over the years it hasn’t helped that concepts such as the feedback sandwich have been used – signalling that something negative is coming in the middle of two positives. 

Feedback really is a gift when shared well and in service of the other person. In this blog we will explore how you can create a feedback culture that becomes part of everyday conversations rather than a one time a year formal conversation. 

Benefits of adopting a feedback culture

When was the last time you received a piece of feedback? Can you recall it, how it was shared with you and how did it make you feel? You may notice that you aren’t receiving much feedback or perhaps you are receiving too much. As a leader you set the tone for feedback, so a starting point is to reflect on whether you embrace it. Benefits of feedback may include:

  • It deepens relationships – the feedback giver and receiver discuss together and share insights. They can both benefit from this shared conversation as they gain ideas and approaches from one another. It increases the depth of the relationship as both people become more open. 
  • It increases self-awareness – without feedback, we are operating in our own worldview, without gaining insights from others about ourselves. The Johari window concept is useful here as feedback enables us to decrease the size of our hidden and unknown areas of ourselves. It is often called the blind spot – i.e., it is known to others and not to you. 
  • It increases our own resourcefulness and creativity – through feedback we develop new strategies or harness strengths even more.
  • It can swiftly address any performance issues – if there is a culture of ongoing feedback, it can be easier to share feedback as it is expected rather than dreaded. 

Employee Feedback Tips

1.Now let’s look at what good looks like. Ask for feedback yourself – if the leader role models, then others will follow. On a regular basis ask for feedback from your team, some questions might include:

  • How did I do in that meeting?
  • What do you need from me that you are not getting? 
  • What are my strengths as you see them? 
  • How is our relationship going for you?

Once you have asked the question, simply sit, listen and be curious, don’t forget to thank the person for providing it (rather than justifying why you do what you do).

2. Catch people doing something right as well as giving developmental feedback – it is crucial to develop a balance of conversation about both strengths and areas of development. These can be separate conversations, i.e., one about strengths you’ve noticed and another time might be something developmental. Reflect on which one you lean towards more – are you someone who stays in the strengths space more or someone who delivers more developmental employee feedback? 

3. Make employee feedback part of the everyday conversation – all too often it is left for more formal performance discussions.  Ideas might include:

  • In 1:1’s create space for feedback for you and for them.
  • In team meetings create moments for team feedback – sharing what’s gone well.
  • When you spot feedback to share, share it, rather than waiting for the formal performance discussions to take place. 

4. Give feedback with good intent and in service of the person – ask yourself “How is this feedback in service of the person’s development?” 

5. Watch out for feedback that is loaded with “do it my way not yours” – really challenge yourself as to whether the feedback is about you being more inclusive as a leader about others doing things in a different way to your own. Inclusivity brings diversity of approaches.

6. Give the employee feedback yourself rather than giving it to others to deliver for you. 

7. Use a framework to share the feedback, for example AID – Action, Impact, Don’t/ Do Differently. 

8. Prepare and reflect – in advance of the conversation consider what the key message is for the other person.

9. Use a coaching approach – share the feedback and then check in, for example:

  • What do you notice?  
  • What resonates?
  • How do you see things?

Using a coaching approach is about partnering with the person so they can make sense of what they just heard. For strengths-based feedback this might be a chance for you both to take a moment to celebrate or feel grateful, or to accelerate the strength even more by discussing how you might use it again next time. 

In Summary

There is a time and place for sharing employee feedback. Consider the format and environment, i.e., in a private space where you can both chat freely and at a moment where the person is receptive to hearing feedback.

Check in, check in and check in – the power of three! Checking in can be done over a period of time rather than all at once. Some people are more reflectors so you may hear their thoughts about the feedback the day after once they have had chance to process what they heard.  

For feedback to be a gift it needs to be in service of the person. Taking steps to create a feedback culture can be as simple as starting with yourself. I encourage all leaders to seek out feedback pro-actively and then make sense of their own feedback themes. In doing so you start to create an environment where it is okay to speak up about things you notice. Otherwise, we create tunnel vision and we want to create as broad a perspective as possible to harness everyone’s best in the team. Feedback really is a gift when you look at it this way. 

I wonder what you have taken from this blog? If you would like to know more about how coaching and feedback can support you and your team then please get in touch for our no obligation initial consultation.


  • Johari Window – Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham 
  • Aid Model – Max Landsberg 
  • Thanks for the feedback – book by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen 

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