Providing Feedback

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Every supervisor needs to learn how to give and receive feedback effectively. Feedback is more than evaluating performance or checking in; it is a valuable method of communication. Poorly delivered feedback can lead to dire consequences. When done correctly, however, feedback will strengthen relationships as it improves performance.

Characteristics of Good Feedback

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There are basic characteristics that define good feedback. When delivering feedback, try to focus on the positive. This does not mean that you cannot be honest or deliver negative information, but do so in a respectful and constructive manner. 


  • Dialogue: Encourage a dialogue, and address any questions or concerns. Do not lecture.
  • Factual: Discuss the facts, and do not bring up impressions or rumors. Use evidence to make your case.
  • Focus: Stay on the topic and avoid personal issues.
  • Be clear: Make sure that the employee understands expectations and has the tools to meet expectations.
  • Be constructive: Point out successes and ways to improve instead of every mistake.
  • Compromise: Be willing to make compromises after listening to your employee’s perspective.

Feedback Delivery Tools

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There are several different tools to help deliver feedback. Individual situations will help determine the best method for delivering feedback.


  • Meetings: Face to face meeting allow you to discover the employee’s response quickly, but some people are nervous about meeting with the boss.
  • Email: It is difficult to read tone in email, and it is not effective for complex situations.
  • 360-degree feedback: This is a review from every level of the company.
  • Reviews: A performance review is the traditional feedback method.

Informal Feedback

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Informal feedback should occur regularly. Feedback is provided as it is needed, which establishes communication between employees and supervisors. Informal feedback does not usually require a paper trail unless there is some type of correction or commendation. Informal meetings and emails are ideal for informal feedback.

What It Addresses:

  • Praise
  • Correction
  • Questions

Formal Feedback

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Formal feedback is traditional feedback. It is often scheduled and includes a great deal of paperwork. Performance reviews and formal corrective actions are examples or formal feedback. Formal reviews are done to record progress and discover opportunities. Formal feedback usually leads to promotions or actions plans for improvement. Formal feedback is limited because it is not consistent and may surprise employees when it is the only feedback they are given. 

Case Study

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The manager at a local bookstore hated annual reviews. People were typically shocked when they left with their reviews and she did not understand why. Performance typically did not improve after reviews. The employees typically ignored her and exhibited the same passive aggressive behavior she pointed out in their reviews. The owner was unhappy with the culture at the store and demanded that the manager provide informal feedback. The manager took a course and applied positive and consistent feedback. The atmosphere improved and the sales increased 20 percent.