In order to maximize productivity and promote a healthy company culture, it’s crucial for managers to understand how to convey feedback to team members.

Effective employee feedback at work should identify areas to improve, provide tactical tools for growth, and acknowledge positive contributions. When done right, these talks can align expectations, set clear goals, and create an environment where giving and receiving feedback is comfortably embedded in the company culture.

How often should you give feedback?

Feedback is most effective when it’s warm, meaning the more often feedback is openly shared, the more comfortable both sides feel in the process. Managers should seek as many casual feedback opportunities as possible, and utilize different feedback channels when relevant.

How should you conduct formal feedback talks?

Set goals

Start the conversation by acknowledging the purpose and value of these talks, such as ensuring alignment, creating comfortable communication, setting clear goals, and providing tangible tips for improvement. Make it clear that this is a conversation, not a lecture, and that both people are encouraged to share.

Be clear

Explicitly state your bottom line – there’s a difference between giving critiques in a supportive way and trying to sugarcoat so much that you fail to actually provide any tangible feedback. It can be helpful to prepare a few bullets summarizing what you want your employee to take away from the conversation, which you can reference throughout the talk.

Be intentional with examples

There’s no need to provide examples for every critique you give. In fact, sometimes examples lead employees to get caught up on specific cases as opposed to understanding the bigger picture, so it’s always best to preface an example with the fact that it’s only an example and to keep them high-level. The goal of examples is simply to support your feedback, so make sure you don’t linger too long in the details.

Focus on behaviors, not characteristics

Behaviors are actionable, repeatable (and avoidable), so you can easily emphasize the ability to improve. So, when possible, show use behavioral suggestions. For example, instead of saying “You should try to be less judgmental,” say, “try asking more questions before giving your teammates criticism, so you can understand the bigger picture and help give them context for your feedback.”

Review goals and KPIs

Go through past goals and KPIs and update them according to your feedback conversation. Make sure to allow enough time for this specific part of the talk, since it’s the real opportunity to align on next steps going forward.

Encourage feedback on both sides

Make your employee feel safe sharing what’s working for them and what could make their experience easier as well. Feel free to start it off by identifying an area you plan to improve in order to help them achieve their new goals.