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How to Give Feedback at Work

If you want to raise everyone's game, you will need to give your employees reinforcement and guidance. Learn how to give feedback at work sensitively -- but effectively -- with these tips.


  • Step 1: Give positive feedback first, building on workers' strengths, before discussing faults. People are more open and listen better when they feel appreciated.
  • TIP: Make sure there's an understanding in the case of a formal performance review, and involve the subject in an action plan.
  • Step 2: Ask for feedback as well, to model the humility to take criticism and the willingness to change. No one is above the law when it comes to working on a team, and there's no time like the present to find out how they really feel.
  • FACT: Positive feedback is more effective for motivating goal pursuit than negative feedback.
  • Step 3: Hone your writing skills to articulate on paper what people are doing right and what needs to change. Use graphics and hard data to support your observations so they can work from concrete evidence.
  • TIP: Studies have shown that negative feedback may have less emotional impact on our brains than no feedback at all.
  • Step 4: Attune yourself to how people take in information and show respect in communicating it. Some people prefer to be praised in public, and others trust a simple pat on the back. Go with whatever it seems like your employee prefers.
  • Step 5: Connect your feedback with company goals that people can focus on achieving. Encourage competition against a deadline or a competitor to motivate workers to do their best. Everyone needs to be challenged.
  • Step 6: Schedule face-to-face feedback sessions with a spirit of encouragement. Don't hide behind e-mail, which can sometimes confuse or even offend, since its tone is open to interpretation.
  • Step 7: Conduct yourself in a frank and direct manner. Reinforce good behavior as it occurs and confront unacceptable behavior before it gets repeated.

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