How To Provide Feedback To Employees Without Hurting Anyone’s Feelings

If you want your employees to be successful, you need to provide them with regular, constructive, and positive feedback. Feedback is an essential communication tool in every workplace. Every leader needs to be able to provide feedback to employees effectively and efficiently – and hopefully without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Businessman Gets Feedback And Thumbs Up Image

Ideally feedback will help an employee grow and improve. It is meant to build skills, increase knowledge, boost productivity, and to correct mistakes before they become a problem. Feedback is designed to provide an employee insight into their personal performance. It can reinforce positive behaviors or correct mistakes. Unfortunately, providing feedback to employees is a very delicate situation.

When you provide feedback to employees, you need to tread lightly. People don’t like being told how to do things. Often feedback makes employees feel like their hard work is being micro managed,  over analyzed, and picked apart. This makes them feel anxious and stressed. Feedback can be a positive thing, but when giving incorrectly, abrasively, or mean spiritedly, feedback can quickly become counterproductive and ineffective. You never want feedback to lead to someone quitting their job.

It’s easy for well-intentioned, simple feedback to become a total disaster. That’s why whenever you provide feedback to employees, set yourself up for success by using these tips and tricks:

  • Be Specific – Always use very specific information in your feedback. Avoid anything that is vague. State exactly what you observed and always tell an employee exactly what you want changed. An employee should walking away knowing exactly what needs to be done the next time.
  • Choose The Right Location – Never call an employee out in the middle of the office or in front of clients. Always provide feedback to employees in a one-on-one setting. Pull them aside and create a safe and comfortable situation.
  • Be Timely – Always provide feedback while the situation is fresh in everyone’s mind. You might not want to do it in the middle of a conversation, but try to speak with the employee as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
  • Meet Your Audience – As a professional, you need to adjust your feedback for each individual employee.
  • Focus On The Goal – Make sure you focus on the end goal of what you want the employee to ultimately achieve. Don’t get sidetracked with unimportant details.
  • Ask Why – Always ask why an employee did things the way that they did them. The answers might surprise you. They might have a very good reason for why they did things their way instead of yours – and it might be better.
  • Check For Understanding – Once you give feedback, ask the employee if they understand what you want and why. Be ready and willing to coach them to success.
  • Always Give More Positive Feedback Than Negative Feedback – It’s more important to reinforce the positive things an employee does than to correct their mistakes. When an employee receives lots of praise, they are less likely to get their feeling hurts when they are corrected.
  • Give Feedback In Person – It’s important to have a face to face conversation with a person when you give them feedback. Don’t send an email or write a memo until after you’ve given feedback in person.
  • Get Ready To Switch Roles – When you provide feedback, the feedback loop often comes back to you. Be ready to receive and welcome feedback anytime you give it.
  • Be Positive – Start with a positive, provide the feedback, and end on a positive. It will help to balance the feedback cycle and hopefully avoid any hurt feelings.

As with everything in the workplace, document the feedback that you provide. You never know when it might come in handy to have a written record.

If you can’t remember all of these tricks, remember this: Always give feedback as you would like to receive it. That’s the Golden Rule.

Sign up for our newsletter!