How to Give Feedback to Manage Performance


Author: Kate Tammemagi

Receiving feedback on your effort, your attitude or your performance is the way that you learn, improve or are motivated to maintain a good performance. Giving feedback effectively and frequently is a key requirement of the role of Manager or Supervisor. Giving and receiving feedback should be a normal part of the Leader and Team Member relationship, a process that both parties understand and accept. It is best practice for the Supervisor to begin giving feedback as part of the initial training period, and to continue this in regular performance coaching sessions throughout the employee’s career.

Positive Feedback
Positive feedback can be given any time, either in public or private. Positive feedback is where we praise a desired attitude, behaviour or performance. The effect of positive feedback is that the person is encouraged to repeat this behaviour and is also motivated to improve. It also builds self confidence and self esteem in the Team Member.

The reverse is also true! Lack of positive feedback is discouraging, demotivating and will lead to a poor performance level. The employee gets the impression that no-one cares whether they do well or not, and that their work has no value!

Giving Constructive  Feedback

The other type of feedback is Constructive Feedback, or Corrective Feedback. Again, this is essential to performance and motivation. Do not think in terms of NEGATIVE feedback as this is not a useful thought. The aim is not to point out the negative or the bad. If you do this, you will find that the person does not improve. You will find yourself saying the same things over and over again.

Giving constructive feedback is about TRAINING the other person to change or improve. If you do this well, you training is successful and will see the desired result. Giving constructive feedback is about identifying an area for improvement and working out solutions to improve or correct this. In giving the feedback, first identify the current goal or task and why this is important to the Company and to the role. Secondly, state clearly the undesirable attitude, behaviour or performance, with factual evidence. Thirdly, state the desired attitude, behaviour or performance, or better still, ask encouraging questions to help the other person make constructive suggestions. Lastly, work with them to put a strategy in place for achieving the desired goal.

Guidelines for giving Feedback Effectively

1. Understand that the feedback is primarily a training need. Be aware that you are the supervisor, and are ultimately responsible for this staff’s behaviour. This feedback is aimed at improving knowledge and behaviour.

2. The key is to talk about the behaviour, performance or attitude rather than the person.

3. Have a good working knowledge of your own learning style and the other types of learning styles. This will help you avoid the pitfall of explaining in a way only YOU would understand. Other people are not always like you!

4. Know your Team Member, their personality style and their unique learning style – Are they a visual, verbal, reading & writing, tactile? Do they have language and cultural complexities?

5. Know your own limitations – If you are giving feedback on a volatile situation, make sure you can recognize your own emotions, and are aware that you may need to calm down before feedback.

6. Give constructive feedback in private – Never give constructive feedback in a group. You would not want to receive it in front of your staff!

7. Always start with positive – When giving feedback you always start with at least two positive observations. This will start the meeting off on a positive note

8. Look at the individual – make eye contact, don’t avoid. If you do, they may question the validity of your session.

9. No apologies, do not apologize for their actions that need correction. Don’t say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but…”

10. Give constructive feedback in an honest and diplomatic way – that is, while pinpointing the target behaviour, state the constructive measures to change the behaviour. Remember, constructive feedback is a means to improving situations by finding a solution to the problem. Give a due date for follow up. The point is to teach a new skill where there was a deficiency.

11. End with a positive – If it was a particularly lengthy/ gruesome session, interact with the staff to make sure things are ok. Be sure that you have checked in with them before you leave for the day. You want to make sure they are not going home disappointed.

12. Ask if they have any questions – if you have given a feedback session, you may not have realised that you were the only one talking for quite some time. Always give the staff the opportunity to seek further knowledge or assistance.
Kate Tammemagi specialises in Management Training in Ireland. She designs and delivers People Management Training and Customer Care Training.
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About the Author: Kate Tammemagi is Trainer and Consultant in Ireland. She specialises in delivering customised Customer Service Training Courses and Leadership Development Training Courses  in businesses,  call centres and professional environments.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Giving Feedback


Being able to give effective feedback is not just a good skill to possess in business, it is a great life skill to have.  Because when you are masterful at giving feedback, not only can you help your employees to sustain continuously improving performance, you can also improve the performance of the baseball team you coach, the cleaning lady at home, or the performance of your own children on completing their chores.  Any person’s performance in any activity can be positively impacted by effective feedback.  Isn’t that a powerful skill to have?

Wouldn’t you want to be a master at giving really useful and impactful feedback?

The good news is that it is not difficult to be good at giving feedback.  It does take some effort and practice. But it is definitely a skill that can be learned.  So, to get you started, here are the Do’s and Don’ts of giving feedback.

Let’s start with the Do’s:

Be Timely:  in order for feedback to be effective, you need to act quickly.  If months have gone by before you bring up an incident, the person receiving the feedback will interpret your delay to imply that it couldn’t have been that important, and the effect of the feedback is greatly diminished.

Be Specific: talk about your feedback in very direct and specific terms (“I noticed there were several calculation errors in last month’s report”).  If you are vague (“your work is unacceptable”), how can you get the message across?  Focus on the action and the results.  Be very factual in your discussion.

Be Open and Offer Suggestions: if the objective of your feedback discussion is to produce an improvement of performance, then come equipped with suggestions (again be specific) on what the person can do to affect that change. Be open to their perspective and be willing to discuss how
they see that situation.  Enroll them in coming up with a solution that they can buy into.  If you don’t get buy-in, change will not happen.

Create the right environment: feedback is best done in person, and in a private setting.  In a business setting, arrange a time and place for your discussion.  Don’t just catch people on the fly and throw a few comments their way as they are heading down the hallway and expect your comments to have any impact.

Check for understanding and buy-in: if the feedback discussion is about a performance issue, make sure you check-in on how your comments have landed with the person. Establish some sort of accountability to verify their buy-in.  For example, if you have an employee who constantly misses deadlines.  During the discussion, ask for a commitment that he will meet all deadlines for the next quarter.  Make sure that the commitment is specific,
and not something vague like: “I’ll do a better job of meeting deadlines next quarter.”

And now for the Don’ts:

Don’t Make it personal:  there is a difference between giving feedback and criticizing.  Do not make it personal.
Don’t interpret actions (showing up late) and pass judgment on the person (he is slacker and isn’t truly dedicated to
this job).  Criticism destroys relationships.  If your employee feels like he is being attacked, he is not going to be very open to hear what you have to say, he will immediately become defensive, and your job becomes much harder.  Focus the discussion on the action, not the person.  Make your employee feel that he is being supported, even if his performance is not up to standard.

Don’t Only give feedback when there’s a problem:  if you’re their leader, people need to know where they stand with you.  If you have a great employee who always exceeds your expectations, take the time to give him just as much feedback as your biggest challenge.  As a matter of fact, make it a point to give more positive feedback comments than “constructive” ones with every person.  You’ll be amazed at how much more motivated your employees will become with consistent positive reinforcement.

Don’t Address multiple issues in one discussion:  your employee will go into overload and you will lose the impact of the discussion.  If there are multiple issues, have different discussions and just concentrate on addressing them one at a time.

So there you have it, a short list of Do’s and Don’ts you can apply to whatever feedback you need to give.  Remember, most people, even your rebellious teenager, want to do a good job and to please.  They do need some clues as to how they are doing and what they need to change.  So master the art of feedback and you can really help each other.

Article Author: Inez Ng

The Do’s and Don’ts of Giving Feedback
Copyright 2005 Inez Ng

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leadership Coach Inez Ng works with professionals and entrepreneurs to produce positive results quickly.  While focusing on specific areas, her coaching positively impacts all areas of her clients’ lives.  Learn more about coaching with Inez at Need help managing your avalanche of emails?  Check out


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