Delivering Better Feedback as a Manager

John Krautzel
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Giving feedback is one of the most important jobs you can perform as a manager. Without feedback, employees may not be aware when they're doing something wrong—or right. They also may not have clear goals without feedback, which could lead to a lack of motivation and focus. Getting good at giving feedback helps you foster a more productive workplace and better employee performance.

The first step to providing better feedback to your employees is to be candid about performance. Far too often, managers will skirt around hot-button issues or try to sugarcoat their feedback because they don't want any hurt feelings. You can be candid without being harsh or overly critical, though. One way is to make sure you point out at least one thing the worker is doing right for each thing that needs improving. When giving feedback, you should also be specific about how the worker can continue to do well and what you want improved. Employees who have clear goals and receive specific feedback are more likely to improve their overall performance.

You should also try to do some coaching when giving feedback. Coaching is a positive way to show your employees you're invested in their success. It also acts as an employee motivational tool, which may lead to increased employee performance. If you lead a team that's working on the same project together, you can do a group coaching session to go through main points that apply to everyone. It's not enough just to be specific and candid; you should also coach your team on how to accomplish those goals you were so specific about. You can lead group coaching sessions virtually any time as long as you don't single out an individual in front of the group.

Finally, when you feel you need to give an employee feedback, make sure you do so immediately. Feedback can be given at any time, so don't wait until the annual performance review to bring up issues. You should be giving feedback as often as is needed, so don't tie it to formal reviews. When you do get around to the formal review, try to keep talk of raises or promotions separate from the actual feedback. Talk of a new position or increased wages will distract your employee from the points you're making about performance. You can always hold a separate meeting to discuss salaries and promotions at a later time.

No matter what industry you're in, giving feedback will be a vital part of your job as a manager. You can—and should—be specific and candid without being overbearing or hurting employees' feelings. Finding this delicate balance will help you become a better manager and help your team and company succeed.



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