Knowing how to effectively communicate feedback to your employees is one of the clearest tell-tale signs of good leadership. Not only does feedback help your employees develop professionally, but it also allows your entire team to succeed and achieve collective goals.

Employee feedback can be given formally, like during a scheduled performance review or one-on-one session. But some of the most impactful employee feedback usually occurs more spontaneously as it’s still fresh in your mind.

So, when exactly should you be giving feedback? And how can you make sure your feedback is constructive?

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The importance of constructive feedback

Letting an employee know they’ve done an excellent job on a report or presentation can be a rewarding experience as a leader. Providing constructive feedback, on the other hand, must be done more delicately and can be more challenging.

The aim of constructive feedback is not to discourage an employee but to help support their professional development through solution-driven strategies. As a leader, it's crucial to provide guidance on how they can improve for future projects and team collaboration, ultimately fostering a more positive work environment and employee experience.

To help you navigate the feedback process, we’ve outlined important tips to master your delivery and offer some real-life examples of employee feedback for different situations.

Employee feedback examples: Positive feedback and reinforcement

Not all feedback conversations need to be tough ones. Providing positive feedback is crucial in maintaining healthy relationships with team members. Positive feedback acknowledges stellar employee performance and strong contributions to team efforts. It's about showcasing major improvements in technical and soft skills, but positive feedback also celebrates employee achievements and milestones.

Manager having a one on one with a team member
Provide authentic feedback to show your employees that you support their professional development.

Because really, who gets tired of hearing that they’ve done something well? While there is no limit to how frequently you can communicate positive employee feedback, reinforcing real-time feedback conversations is a great way to connect with your employees and deepen engagement.

How you give employee feedback is just as important as when you give it. Positive employee feedback should be genuine and personal. If you provide positive feedback without referring to specifics, employees might feel like you weren’t paying attention or trying to hit a compliment quota.

Acknowledging employee contributions

Example 1: Employee takes the initiative

“Thank you for your extra efforts on [name a specific project or task]. You did an amazing job, and your commitment has not gone unnoticed. Keep up the good work, and let me know how I can continue to support you on future projects.”

This positive feedback is effective because it's specific and lets the employee know that their efforts do not go unnoticed.

Example 2: Employee contributes to meetings

"I really liked the comment you made during yesterday's team meeting. It was a great contribution to the discussion. Your positive attitude is felt throughout the department!"

This example lets employees know that their thoughts and opinions are valued and that they are actively contributing to a creative and dynamic work culture.

Recognizing employee improvements

Example 3: Employee improves on specific skills

I wanted to let you know that I have noticed how much you have developed your [name the specific skills]. I know it can be challenging to overcome or master [name the skill], but we can feel your drive to succeed.”

This piece of positive feedback recognizes an employee's commitment to sharpening their skills. It reinforces positive behavior and can boost morale.

Example 4: Employee demonstrates increased productivity

"We've noticed how focused you are lately and how well you manage your time. You're producing tremendous work, keep it up!"

When an employee feels like their hard work is being recognized, they will be more motivated to keep up the pace.

Celebrating employee achievements

Example 5: Employee reaches a significant milestone

"We just wanted to congratulate you on hitting your first-year 'workaversary'! We're really lucky to have had you on the team for the last 12 months."

Positive feedback isn't only about recognizing when an employee hits their targets. It's extremely important to recognize years of service and express gratitude for everything they've contributed while at the company.

Example 6: Employee exceeds expectations on a project

“Thank you for your extra efforts on [name a specific project or task]. You did an amazing job, and your commitment has not gone unnoticed. Keep up the good work, and let me know how I can continue to support you on future projects.”

These types of positive employee feedback examples let team members know that their extra efforts are appreciated and contribute to the collective well-being and success of the company.

Need more inspiration to empower your team members? Browse through these 16 positive feedback examples.

Employee feedback examples: Areas for improvement

There is sometimes no way around relaying more negative feedback. It can be uncomfortable, but the role of a leader is to help employees develop and reach their personal goals. Sometimes this means delivering harsh feedback, but only when it will ultimately help them improve. Providing this type of employee feedback helps:

  • Address performance issues
  • Sharpen skills and knowledge
  • Improve interpersonal communication
  • Boost team collaboration

The more you dwell on an issue, the trickier it will be to overcome it. Resentments may arise, leading to decreased collaboration between peers and dips in employee engagement. By nipping the issue in the bud, you provide your employee with the opportunity to review the way they do things.

Good communication skills are crucial to providing negative employee feedback. These types of conversations are never easy, but ultimately, they will lead to a happier, more inclusive company culture.

While providing in-person feedback might not be an option for distributed teams, tricky conversations are best had through a video call over an email so that your employees can read your body language and tone. The less that is left up to interpretation, the better.

Addressing performance issues

Example 7: Employee fails to meet deadlines

“I want to talk to you about your work on this last project because your delay impacted the team. I know you worked hard to complete your part on time and looking back now, we can spot the roadblocks more easily. I’d love to see you be more proactive in spotting them before they impact your delivery next time. How can we make it easier for you to raise the flag on these kinds of things?”

This piece of negative feedback does not blame the employee for failing to meet the deadline. Instead, the manager takes it upon themselves to see how they can help them.

Example 8: Employee struggles with time management

"I've noticed that lately, you have been having some challenges meeting deadlines or replying to clients in a timely fashion. I know we've been in a bit of a crunch these past few weeks, but my door is always open if you need help to reprioritize certain tasks. The team is always here if you need a hand."

This example does not judge the employee for struggling with time management. Here, the manager offers the support of other team members to help reach broader goals.

Make dealing with underperforming employees easier on yourself with these concrete steps to address poor performance.

Enhancing skills and knowledge

Example 9: Employee needs to develop a specific skill

"You excel in so many areas of this job and your contributions are invaluable. We do notice, however, that you could benefit from further developing your [name of skill]. We would be happy to provide you with additional resources to really master this skill."

This constructive feedback example is supportive and solution-oriented. The onus does not fall on the employee for not having mastered the skill; instead, it becomes a collaborative goal between the employee and their manager.

Example 10: Employee could benefit from additional training

"We are so impressed with your employee profile and level of proficiency when it comes to [name of skills]. We have noticed, though, that the industry standard for your role is to be more familiar with [name of software]. With a little additional training, we know you can be an expert in no time. We would be happy to sign you up for the next training session."

This feedback example is helpful because it is specific and allows your employee to grow professionally within the industry. It shows that the organization is willing to invest in their future.

Encouraging better communication examples

Example 11: Employee needs to improve their communication style

"I appreciate your autonomous work style. But it could be valuable to provide more visibility to the rest of the team so that they can adjust their tasks and schedules accordingly."

Feedback conversations like this one let an employee know that while they may work well on their own, no person is an island and other team members need to be made aware of deadlines and updates (without being judgmental of their personal work style).

Example 12: Employee should work on building rapport with colleagues

“While I appreciate your dedication to [name the project], it might be helpful to check in with the rest of the team more frequently so that we can adjust deadlines if you need more time. We would be happy to assist you on the project if you feel like you need additional support or resources. Your colleagues have valuable insights to contribute to this project.”

This example piece of employee feedback gently lets a direct report know that they can always rely on their team members for support and that their colleagues are there to provide their expertise.

Employee feedback examples: Goal setting and professional development

One of the best ways to keep your team members around for the long haul is to help them set goals and nurture their career development plans. As a leader, it's your role to ensure your employee's goals align with broader company objectives to be able to grow together.

There two main goal-setting frameworks that help encourage personal and professional development:

  1. OKRs (objectives and key results): This framework offers a great way to tie employee goals directly to company objectives. The key results component makes it easy to track the employee's progress over time.
  2. SMART goals: This framework is most useful when setting personal development goals — like working towards a new hard or soft skill — that help employees constantly improve and grow in their roles. Its descriptive nature allows employees to set detailed, relevant, and measurable goals to drive themselves and their team forward.

Like positive or constructive feedback, you can provide feedback on goal setting and professional development shortly after a situation or challenge arises. If you work remotely, book a quick sync to let your colleague know that while you appreciate their work ethic, you feel there is room for improvement in a particular area.

It's important to note that feedback on goal setting and professional development should be realistic, achievable, and tailored to the employee's skills and motivations.

Aligning goals with company objectives

Example 13: Employee's goals should align with the company's mission

"I would like to review your tasks and priorities. I have noticed that you are excelling at [Projects 2 and 3], but [Project 1] is a top priority for the organization. Do you feel like you have all the tools and resources to work on [Project 1]? Do you think there is work you could delegate to stay more aligned with what has to be done first?"

This piece of constructive feedback is direct but still highlights the employee's strong performance on other tasks. It provides guidance and clarity on organizational values and goals.

Example 14: Employee should focus on key performance indicators (KPIs)

"We have just learned from the executive team that we will be shifting gears on some of our KPIs this quarter. We will need you to refocus on certain projects that are aligned with current company goals. I know that in the past these types of tasks have been more challenging for you, so please let me know how I can best support you."

Employee feedback examples like this one can be tougher to deliver but are necessary to keep the organization running smoothly. This message is firm but supportive and lets the employee know that they have a team backing them if they need extra support.

Setting SMART goals

Example 15: Employee sets a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal

"I noticed that you set a new SMART goal in our dedicated platform. I have some ideas on how we can help you achieve it. Let's book some time to review where you are with this goal and where you can dedicate more of your time and energy."

These types of constructive employee feedback examples acknowledge the work a person has done toward achieving their long and short-term goals. It is supportive and lets employees know that the company is dedicated to seeing them succeed.

Example 16: Employee revises a vague goal to make it more "SMART"

"I really like the initiative you took to review this goal. It's important to acknowledge what is realistically achievable within the time frame we have established. Let's work together to reach this part of the goal and see how we can further develop it in the future."

Employee feedback examples like this one let your team member know that it's encouraged to be adaptable. Just because the goal cannot be achieved within a specific time frame due to external factors, doesn't mean that they cannot achieve it in the future with a little support.

Check out our best SMART employee goal-setting examples if you’re looking for inspiration.

Encouraging personal development

Example 17: Employee should explore professional development opportunities

"I noticed that you expressed interest in taking on a more senior role and the responsibilities that come along with it. I love the initiative and would be happy to help you work on some key skills necessary to succeed in the role."

It's important to help employees reach their goals. A leader should nurture an employee's drive to succeed and give them the tools to do so. This type of example exemplifies the supportive nature of a good leader.

Example 18: Employee should consider networking and mentorship

"Based off of our previous conversations where you expressed interest in being paired with a leader in the industry to shadow their work, we would be happy to enroll you in the upcoming mentorship program offered by the company. This is a great networking opportunity to learn more about the field."

This example is helpful for employee development because it showcases to your direct report that you have been listening to them and take their opinions to heart. It shows your employee that their growth is important to you.

Employee feedback examples: Overcoming challenges

Challenges will arise in any and every industry. Some of these challenges may be out of a manager's control, but a good leader always puts the interest of their employees first and works diligently to ensure these roadblocks can be overcome. During tough times, a leader must be able to deliver feedback that offers support and guidance and helps identify potential roadblocks. It's equally important, however, to recognize employee efforts at overcoming adversity through creative problem solving and perseverance.

The best way to address challenges with your team members is to provide feedback as swiftly as possible when the situation is fresh in everyone's minds. Deliver your thoughts and feedback in a genuine but supportive way so as to not discourage your employees from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Identifying roadblocks

Example 19: Employee faces obstacles in completing a task

"Thank you for all the work you've already done on this project. I could tell that you've hit a bit of a wall in trying to complete the next part. How can I help you overcome this roadblock? Are there any specific resources I can offer you?"

Constructive employee feedback examples like this one do not diminish all the work a person has done on a project but offer a supportive hand on how to cross the finish line. In this example, the employee is being empowered to reach their goals with extra guidance.

Example 20: Employee encounters challenges in working with a team

“I sensed the tension in our planning meeting yesterday, and I want to be sure that we address it before it impacts our productivity or happiness. We’re all working towards [name a shared goal] here, and it’s okay if we have different ideas than your colleagues on how to get there. What were you feeling in the meeting? What are your main concerns? Let’s schedule a meeting with [name of colleague] to work towards a collaborative resolution.”

This example acknowledges and validates the employee's feelings while collaboratively searching for a way to reach common ground with other team members.

It's normal to hit a roadblock once in a while but there are ways to overcome them and even prevent them altogether. Read about the four most common roadblocks for high-performing teams and how you can circumvent them.

Offering support and guidance

Example 21: The manager provides resources to help the employee

"I know this project has evolved rapidly since we first drafted the brief. You've been doing a great job, but I just wanted to send you a few resources and documents that may be of help in the last leg of the project."

This example is effective because it recognizes all the work the employee has already done on the project but offers assistance in a supportive and non-condescending tone.

Example 22: The manager offers coaching or mentoring to assist the employee

"Your skills have grown exponentially since your last performance review. You have really taken our feedback to heart and we see tremendous potential for a senior role. If you're interested, I would be happy to serve as your mentor to help get you there."

Employee feedback examples like this one reference specific actions and offer additional guidance without imposing on the employee.

Celebrating resilience and problem-solving

Example 23: Employee demonstrates persistence in overcoming obstacles

"I know that this project has been more challenging than we anticipated due to external delays. Your willingness to complete it on time does not go unnoticed. I admire your resiliency."

While it's important to celebrate the big wins, acknowledging employee resiliency is crucial in keeping engagement high. The desired outcome may not always be achieved, but this type of feedback recognizes valiant efforts.

Example 24: Employee finds creative solutions to challenges

"You really thought outside of the box to make sure we delivered this campaign on time. I myself would not have come up with this strategy and I commend your creativity. Keep it up!"

This piece of feedback is effective because it celebrates the employee's creativity and problem-solving abilities. It can go a long way in boosting employee motivation and engagement.

Best practices for delivering employee feedback

According to Officevibe Pulse Survey data, 17% of employees say that the feedback they receive isn’t specific enough.

Feedback shouldn’t be arbitrary. For it to be useful and impactful, it has to be focused on what a person did (as opposed to who they are as a person) and on the outcome of their actions.

Focus on specific patterns of behavior and actions

It can be easy to overlook the actionable steps following a feedback conversation, but employee feedback must be applicable in the future for it to be worth sharing. The goal of giving employee feedback should always be to help the other person improve.

The three focus areas of effective feedback:

  • The behavior: What the employee did and how they did it.
  • The outcome: What resulted from the employee’s behavior and how it impacted the rest of the team.
  • The next steps: How to maintain positive outcomes, improve average outcomes, or work to solve negative ones.

Providing feedback is an ongoing process that helps your direct reports thrive in the workplace, but knowing how to give feedback can be challenging, especially when you have to communicate negative or constructive criticism.

One of the best ways to give feedback, regardless of type, is to follow the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) model. The SBI model suggests you give context to the situation, identify the behavior to be discussed, and share the impact that this behavior may have had.

Provide frequent and effective employee feedback

Officevibe Pulse Survey data shows that 25% of employees feel that the frequency of feedback they receive is not enough to help them understand how they can improve.

In the fast-paced modern workforce, you need to develop a feedback channel with your team that goes beyond their annual performance review. Frequent coaching has proven to be a game-changer for intrinsic motivation, employee engagement, and improved employee experience.

Don’t be too one-sided: Make feedback a collaborative effort

Feedback should be a two-way conversation. You and your employees should work collaboratively to uncover learnings and apply them to future projects. This is where you can let your strong leadership skills shine; your role as a manager can transform into that of a coach, creating a culture of ongoing employee development.

Be open to your employee’s take on the situation and be willing to hear them out. The best way to do this is to always follow feedback with an open-ended question.

The employee feedback loop is a great mechanism to facilitate continuous improvement at work. It sparks healthy 2-way conversations that give managers and employees the feedback they need to succeed.

Ask for manager feedback regularly

While it’s crucial to provide employees with feedback, it’s equally important to get employee feedback so that your team can voice their ideas, opinions, and concerns.

Receiving manager feedback can nip productivity issues in the bud, help you grow in your leadership role, and increase employee engagement on your team.

Using tools to create a feedback culture in the workplace

Delivering employee feedback, whether it's positive, negative or constructive, should aim to nurture employee growth. When offered in a genuine, timely manner (like in the examples above), feedback can help identify and remove any blockers and can ultimately improve employee engagement and boost job satisfaction.

But it's important to remember that a true feedback culture must be a two-way street. Employee feedback tools like Officevibe help managers establish open lines of communication between employees and leadership, allowing employees to submit their thoughts in a safe, judgment-free space.

By making feedback a part of your company culture, you can foster a happier, more positive employee experience for the entire organization.

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