Making Performance Feedback Count

Posted by Michelle • April 7, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 4 min read

Giving performance feedback is sometimes a dreaded job. While improvements need to be made in employee performance, it can be a challenge to get feedback across in a way that is digestible and actionable. Every manager has their own unique approach to giving performance feedback. Here are 4 employee performance feedback tips from today’s professionals for you to put in your back pocket.

These answers originally appeared on Quora. They have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Make the process a two-way street

“I believe the ‘Feedback Process’ should be a very positive discussion…even if it’s a performance issue. There has to be accountability on both sides in order for the discussion to have value.

  • Understand the situation from the employee’s point of view.
  • Discuss observed behaviors in the context of success.
  • Probe around what the employee did/behaviors, obtain agreement on those behaviors.
  • Probe to understand employee’s view of the situation: Is he/she getting closer to success from the feedback? (Be specific.)
  • Identify what aspects of your feedback are aligned with what great looks like.”

Andre’ D. Harrell is President and CEO of AH2 & Beyond Consulting

Harrell reminds us to involve employees in the feedback process and work to find the root cause of their performance issues. Putting yourself is their position can help to understand cracks in the performance management process that might have led to this behavior.


Check out 10 Performance Review Tips Every Manager Should Know


Keep feedback objective

“There are a few rules that you should observe in order to make your feedback effective:

  • Always be specific rather than making sweeping statements – refer to a specific (recent) occasion, a particular action in order to focus the discussion on a tangible case.
  • Describe the behavior rather than evaluating it – express what you have observed, and how that makes you feel, rather than making a judgment on whether a particular behavior is good or bad.
  • Focus on the behavior rather than the person – a person cannot change who they are but they can change the way in which they behave so focus on that specific way of acting.
  • Make sure you’re giving feedback for the right reason – think of what the effect will be on your relationship with the person receiving the feedback, and make sure that you’re not simply venting your frustration but rather that you’re giving constructive input.”

Anna Lundberg is a professional coach, mentor and consultant

 Lundberg brings to light one of the trickiest parts of giving performance feedback. How can a manager be assertive without tarnishing the relationships and trust they spend every day working to build? Her advice is to work to be as objective in your phrasing as possible.


Find out What Questions You Should Ask in 360-Degree Feedback


Focus on achievements

“We often view feedback as something which occurs between a leader and an individual follower; however, groups benefit from hearing / seeing / being involved in the process where a member has had their achievement recognized and celebrated.

Celebrating achievement positively reinforces the efforts of the individual and motivates them to continue their efforts to receive further praise.  It also demonstrates to the rest of the group what the expected standards of performance are and serves as a form of motivation to the individual members of that group to achieve those standards.”

Rohan Davies is a leadership development consultant

 Davies puts the spotlight on recognizing good behavior and performance. This not only leads to empowered and appreciated employees, but serves as an added incentive to for improved performance.  It brings teams closer together for greater camaraderie and engagement.


Follow this Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring for Cultural Fit


Don’t forget about follow-up

“If the feedback is negative always have a suggestion ready for how the employee can remedy the situation. Set the agreed quality standard or expectation for future performance improvement.  MOST importantly proactively follow up on the employee to monitor changed behavior .. do not wait until the next review cycle to observe the change, it will be too late.”

Roland Amm is an IT Program Manager and Principal Consultant


Amm discusses the importance of follow-up and being proactive about improving employee performance. It isn’t enough to set goals with employees. Managers should check up regularly to ensure employees are on the right track and adhering to the agreed standards.

Every manager has their own approach to giving performance feedback, but it’s easy to get stuck in a routine, even one that isn’t as effective as it could be. If you’re looking to freshen up your own style, remember these employee performance feedback tips from professionals who have faced the very same struggles.

Need employee evaluation software to keep you organized and accountable? Trakstar can help! Take your free demo today.


Don't Miss Out on More Great HR Articles!

Subscribe to get the latest, greatest HR and Talent Development content straight to your inbox.