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How to Give Written Feedback at Work

Although feedback in the workplace is often taken as criticism, it's a valuable tool in giving clear-cut direction to improve job performance for both supervisor and employee.


  • Step 1: Ask first Ask your employee for their opinion on a topic before giving written feedback. Your feedback may have a greater impact if they have a chance to explain themselves first. You may also learn more about the issue, something that could change your assessment of the situation.
  • TIP: Be cognizant of employees' emotional well being. That doesn't mean ignoring problems or eliminating criticism, but it also means you needn't tear into them mercilessly.
  • Step 2: Be specific Be as specific and direct as possible when you provide written feedback. If you're vague and inconsistent, your employees will have a difficult time deciphering what you want.
  • TIP: Practice makes perfect, so be sure to offer regular feedback. Send out a weekly or monthly e-mail that offers both praise and a summary of challenges.
  • Step 3: Focus on strengths Focus on the employee's strengths. Even if you ultimately aim to improve a certain area of performance, determine their strong suits and apply those factors to their weakness.
  • Step 4: Allow for a response Submit your feedback and note that the recipient is invited to respond. Even if they don't have an immediate response, recognize that they may return to the issue at hand if questions crop up at a later date.
  • Step 5: Follow up Follow up with another e-mail or quick note to check whether the employee has corrected or improved the situation. Your follow-up indicates effective and thorough leadership and shows the employee his or her work has value.
  • FACT: American workers typically get two weeks of yearly vacation. In Finland, the government mandates 30 paid vacation days per year.

You Will Need

  • E-mail or note
  • Follow-up

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