Employee Feedback Examples for Positive Change

Without feedback, employees won’t know if they’re meeting expectations. Here we explore employee feedback examples and effects that inspire positive change.

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FAQs about feedback in the workplace

Here's what you need to know:

  • Feedback is important for employees because it clarifies expectations, builds confidence, and helps them grow
  • Ideally, feedback is an ongoing conversation. Try to provide feedback in real time, in weekly check-ins, and during reviews
  • Best practices for delivering feedback? Make it specific, and be timely and kind. Also make sure the conversation is solution-oriented and future-focused
  • Some employee feedback examples are affirming feedback, course-correcting feedback, and addressing performance issues with feedback

In the absence of positive feedback, even the most intuitive employees won’t know how well they’re meeting expectations. But with the right kind of feedback, HR leaders can encourage team members, zero in on opportunities for growth, and create an ongoing conversation about performance. Here we’ll explore employee feedback examples and effects that could inspire positive change in your workplace and world.

Why is feedback important?

“Feedback is important because it builds psychological safety in teams and drives better business outcomes,” Emily Goodson, CEO and founder of consulting firm Culture Smart, says.

Clarifies expectations

Underperforming employees may not understand the various contours of their roles or responsibilities. Use constructive feedback to reward employee engagement, clarify expectations, and illustrate what success in their role looks like.

Builds confidence

Offer positive employee feedback for a job well done to encourage team members and build their confidence. HR leaders often see potential that employees don’t see in themselves. Giving feedback can elevate an employee’s belief in their own abilities.

Helps employees grow

Frame any negative feedback as an opportunity for growth. Highlight where employees could improve to increase their eligibility for advancement at your company or along their career path.

How often should you give feedback?

Ideally, giving effective employee feedback is part of an ongoing conversation. “There should not be a quota on feedback, but it should be provided regularly,” Marlo Green, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CEO of Green Ocean HR, says.

Because feedback is best internalized when it’s timely and specific, managers and HR leaders should provide it in the moment and with appropriate regularity. Here are a few opportunities to provide feedback.

In real-time, or close to it

Some specific events — positive or negative — warrant immediate, meaningful feedback. Whether an employee has nailed a presentation or dropped a ball, HR leaders should provide specific feedback about employee performance. What did they do well, and what needs improvement?

In weekly check-ins

Create an open dialogue around performance by forming a feedback culture with weekly check-ins. A prime time to discuss challenges, triumphs, and concerns, weekly check-ins are a chance to strengthen the feedback loop between manager and employee.

During reviews

Performance reviews are a natural occasion for revisiting feedback. Because of the information exchanges managers and HR leaders have established with their direct reports, formal performance review talking points should not come as a surprise. So take this time to re-energize employees for a job well done or further course-correct by reinforcing feedback if necessary.

What are the best practices for delivering feedback?

Follow these best practices for giving feedback, positive or negative.

Make feedback specific

Be specific with employee feedback and examples. Even meaningful feedback without context is ambiguous and can feel inauthentic or targeted. “You’ve done an amazing job over the past few months” is not as powerful or motivating as, “We’ve been impressed with how you’ve handled the overnight transition to remote work. You’ve excelled at communicating with the team and managing shifting priorities.” You should see that encouragement reflected in future projects.

Be timely

Be prompt in providing feedback. Timely, regular feedback further builds the context that helps employees understand what went well or could be done better next time.

Provide actionable feedback

Especially when providing constructive criticism, feedback should include examples of how an employee could improve next time. Make the conversation solution-oriented and future-focused rather than punitive.

Be kind

Kindness doesn’t mean feedback can’t be critical. But how you phrase feedback does impact how an employee will receive it. When offering critical feedback, consider providing examples of times when employees exceeded expectations as proof you know they can improve in this area as well.

Employee feedback examples

Affirming feedback

Provide positive reinforcement in the moment and in weekly 1:1s. Effective feedback is easy to hear, so feel free to offer it to employees off the cuff. A few ways you can phrase this feedback are:

  • “I’m so impressed with how you just (name the positive behavior).”
  • “Have I ever told you that I admire your ability to …”?
  • “I think you did a great job with (XYZ). I could tell you were well prepared by (A, B, and C).”

Initiating course-correcting feedback

Take a moment to check in with employees before redirecting feedback. If you’re giving timely course-correcting feedback, start the conversation by confirming now is a good time to speak. Then ask them to join you somewhere away from other team members. Try saying:

  • “Do you have a quick moment to catch up about (XYZ)?”
  • “I’d like to touch base with you on how (XYZ) went. Is now a good time?”
  • “I’d like to speak with you about (XYZ). Do you have a minute?”

Addressing performance issues with feedback

Be especially mindful of the best practices when giving feedback that addresses performance issues. Explain what you’re observing to the employee and the specific ways they are not meeting expectations. If you’ve touched on the same performance issue in the past, reference the former conversations you’ve shared about the topic.

Ask employees to problem-solve with you by asking open-ended questions, and be sure to practice active listening. Lastly, if you’ve addressed an issue a number of times, share the action you’ll take if the behavior continues.

  • “Last time we spoke, I shared with you that I was concerned about (X). I haven’t seen any improvement. What can we do to help you meet expectations?”
  • “I’m noticing that because of (X), you’re unable to (Y). How can I help you remove this obstacle?”
  • This is the 3rd time we’ve discussed (X), and your behavior has not changed. I need to explain to you the consequences if this continues.”

Feedback is a powerful tool for development. By hearing other people’s perspectives, we’re able to reconsider our own performance or behaviors. Be timely, specific, and kind, and approach feedback as a lever for growth for each team member.

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