The Manager’s Playbook: How to Provide Employee Feedback

As a new manager, one of your most crucial responsibilities is providing employee feedback to your employees. Feedback is a powerful tool for fostering growth, enhancing performance, and promoting a culture of continuous improvement within your team. This guide outlines the significance of giving employees feedback and provides practical tips to overcome common challenges associated with the feedback process.

The importance of giving employees feedback

Effective feedback creates an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to excel. It enables them to understand their strengths and areas for improvement and align their goals with organizational objectives because:

Feedback enhances performance:

Feedback offers employees insights into their performance, helping them identify strengths to leverage and areas that require development. It allows you to guide specific behaviors, skills, or tasks that can be improved.


Feedback fosters employee engagement:

Regular feedback demonstrates your investment in your employees’ growth and development. It cultivates a sense of trust, collaboration, and open communication, leading to higher employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Feedback facilitates learning and development:

Feedback provides employees with valuable information to enhance their skills, knowledge, and professional development. It helps them set clear goals and identify strategies for improvement.

Feedback strengthens teamwork and collaboration:

Constructive feedback encourages open dialogue, enabling team members to understand each other’s perspectives and work together more effectively. It promotes a culture of mutual support and collaboration.


By embracing the feedback process, you can create a positive and productive work environment that empowers employees to reach their full potential.

Common Reasons Managers Avoid Providing Feedback

As a new manager, it’s important to acknowledge and address the common reasons that may hinder you from providing feedback to your employees. By understanding these challenges, you can develop strategies to overcome them effectively.

Managers avoid providing feedback because of a fear of conflict:

Many managers avoid giving feedback due to a fear of conflict or potential negative reactions from employees. However, it’s crucial to recognize that constructive feedback is essential for growth and development. To overcome this fear:

  1. Focus on growth and development: Shift your mindset from viewing feedback as criticism to seeing it as an opportunity for improvement and personal growth. Emphasize that your intention is to support employees in reaching their full potential.
  2. Establish a culture of open communication: Foster an environment where open dialogue and feedback are encouraged at all levels. Lead by example by actively seeking feedback from your team and demonstrating that it is valued and appreciated.

Managers avoid providing feedback because they lack the time or prioritization:

Managers often find it challenging to prioritize providing feedback amidst their busy schedules. However, feedback should be viewed as an integral part of your managerial responsibilities. Here are ways to overcome this challenge:

  1. Schedule regular feedback sessions: Set aside dedicated time for providing feedback to each employee. This can be done on a monthly, quarterly, or project-specific basis. Scheduling these sessions ensures that feedback becomes a priority and not something that is easily overlooked.
  2. Incorporate feedback into routine interactions: Integrate feedback into your day-to-day interactions with employees. Provide timely feedback on specific tasks or projects as they occur, rather than waiting for scheduled sessions. This approach demonstrates that feedback is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Managers avoid providing feedback because of a lack of confidence:

Managers may hesitate to provide feedback due to a lack of confidence in delivering it effectively. However, you can develop the skills needed to provide impactful feedback with preparation and practice. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Prepare and plan feedback in advance: Take the time to organize your thoughts, gather relevant examples, and clarify the specific behaviors or areas you want to address. This preparation ensures that your feedback is specific, actionable, and well-structured.
  2. Practice active listening and empathy: Effective feedback involves active listening and understanding the employee’s perspective. Create a safe space for open dialogue, show empathy, and be receptive to their thoughts and concerns. This approach helps build trust and enhances the employee’s receptiveness to feedback.

By addressing these common challenges head-on, you can overcome them and pave the way for a constructive feedback culture within your team. Remember, providing feedback is an opportunity for growth for your employees and yourself as a manager.


How to Help Employees Receive and Implement Feedback

Providing feedback is not only about delivering it effectively; it also involves supporting your employees in receiving and implementing it constructively. Here are some tips to help employees embrace feedback and utilize it for their growth and development:

Create a supportive environment:

  1. Build trust through open and honest communication: Establish a foundation of trust with your employees by fostering an open and honest communication environment. Encourage them to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of judgment or reprisal.
  2. Demonstrate empathy and understanding: Show empathy when providing feedback. Understand that receiving feedback can sometimes be challenging for employees. Acknowledge their efforts and emotions, and be supportive throughout the process.

Frame feedback constructively:

  1. Focus on behavior and impact: Frame feedback around specific behaviors and their impact on individual or team performance. Instead of making personal attacks, highlight areas for improvement and suggest alternative approaches.
  2. Offer specific examples and actionable suggestions: Provide concrete examples to illustrate your feedback. This helps employees understand the context and specifics of their actions. Additionally, offer actionable suggestions for improvement to guide them in implementing the feedback effectively.

Encourage employee self-reflection:

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Encourage employees to reflect on their performance by asking open-ended questions such as, “How do you think this project could have been executed more efficiently?” This prompts them to think critically and take ownership of their development.
  2. Promote personal development goals: Help employees identify their strengths and areas for growth. Support them in setting personal development goals aligned with their career aspirations. Regularly revisit these goals to assess progress and provide guidance.

By creating a supportive environment, framing feedback constructively, and encouraging employee self-reflection, you can empower your team members to receive feedback positively and use it as a catalyst for their growth and development. Remember, feedback is a collaborative process to achieve individual and team success.

In addition to the suggestions above, tailoring your approach to each employee’s unique needs and preferences is crucial. Flexibility and adaptability in delivering feedback will help ensure its effectiveness and impact.


The Importance of Follow-Up After Delivering Feedback

Providing feedback doesn’t end with the initial conversation. Follow-up is critical to reinforce feedback, support employee progress, and ensure continuous improvement. Here are some tips and examples on how to effectively follow up after delivering feedback:

Reinforce feedback through regular check-ins:

Schedule follow-up discussions. Set up follow-up meetings or check-ins to discuss progress and address any questions or concerns. This demonstrates your commitment to their development and provides an opportunity for employees to seek clarification or further guidance.

For example, “Let’s schedule a follow-up meeting next week to review your progress on implementing the feedback we discussed. This will give us a chance to address any challenges and ensure you have the support you need.”


Provide ongoing support and resources. Offer resources, training opportunities, or additional support materials to help employees improve in the areas identified in the feedback. This shows that you are invested in their success and gives them the tools they need to excel.

For example, “I have found a useful online course that can help you strengthen your presentation skills. I will send you the link so that you can explore it in your own time. Let’s discuss your progress in our next check-in.”

Celebrate progress and acknowledge improvements:

Recognize and appreciate efforts. Acknowledge and appreciate the employee’s efforts in implementing the feedback. Recognize specific improvements or positive changes they have made since receiving the feedback. This reinforces their motivation and encourages further growth.


For example, “I wanted to acknowledge the significant improvement in your time management skills. Your ability to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines has positively impacted the team’s productivity. Keep up the excellent work!”

Provide positive reinforcement. Offer positive reinforcement for the progress made and the outcomes achieved through the implementation of feedback. This helps build confidence and encourages employees to continue their development journey.

For example, “Your client presentation yesterday was outstanding. Your use of visuals and clear communication made a significant impact. It’s evident that you’ve applied the feedback we discussed, and it’s paying off. Well done!”


Address any additional concerns or challenges:

Offer guidance and additional resources. If employees encounter challenges or have questions about the feedback, be available to provide guidance and support. Offer additional resources or suggest alternative approaches to help them overcome obstacles.

For example, “I understand you’re facing some challenges with the new project management tool. Let’s schedule a time to go through it together, and I’ll show you some tips and tricks to ease the transition.”

Adapt the feedback approach if needed. Feedback is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Be flexible and adaptive in your approach, taking into account employees’ individual needs and preferences. Modify your feedback style or delivery method if it helps them better understand and implement the feedback.


For example, “Based on our previous feedback sessions, I’ve noticed that visual aids work well for you. I’ll incorporate more visual examples in future discussions to clarify and support your learning process.”

By emphasizing the importance of follow-up, celebrating progress, and addressing challenges, you can ensure that feedback is an ongoing process that leads to continuous growth and improvement within your team. Remember, feedback should be a collaborative and supportive effort that fosters individual and team success.

Tips for Staying Organized to Ensure Feedback Follow-Up Happens

Providing feedback is a continuous process that requires organization and follow-up to ensure its effectiveness. Here are some tips and recommendations for staying organized and on top of your feedback-related tasks:


Use a feedback tracking system:

  1. Document feedback conversations and action plans: Maintain a record of feedback conversations, including key points discussed, areas for improvement, and action plans. This helps you stay organized and provides a reference for future follow-up discussions.
  2. Set reminders for follow-up meetings and discussions: Use calendar tools or task management applications to set reminders for follow-up meetings or check-ins. This ensures that you remember to provide employees the necessary support and guidance.

Establish clear goals and expectations:

Set measurable objectives. Collaboratively set clear goals and objectives with your employees that align with the feedback provided. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART goals). This clarity helps employees understand what is expected of them and enables you to monitor progress effectively.

For example: “By the end of the quarter, increase your customer satisfaction ratings by 10% through improved communication and proactive problem-solving.”

Monitor progress and provide timely feedback. Regularly review progress toward the established goals and provide timely feedback. This allows you to track improvements, address challenges, and provide guidance as needed.


For example, schedule monthly progress reviews to discuss achievements, challenges, and provide guidance on areas that require further improvement.

Seek feedback from employees:

  1. Encourage two-way communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable providing feedback to you as a manager. Actively seek their input on your leadership style, communication, and ways to improve the feedback process. This fosters a culture of continuous improvement and mutual learning.
  2. Foster a culture of continuous improvement: Emphasize the importance of feedback for employees and your own growth as a manager. Show appreciation for the feedback received and demonstrate your commitment to implementing constructive suggestions.

For example, share with your team how you have applied their feedback to adjust your management approach and communicate the positive outcomes of those changes.

Recommendations for tools:

  1. Project management software: Utilize project management tools like Asana, Trello, or to track feedback-related tasks, set reminders, and collaborate with team members on action plans.
  2. Feedback management platforms: Explore dedicated feedback management platforms like 15Five, Reflektive, or Lattice that offer features specifically designed to track and facilitate the feedback process, including goal setting, progress monitoring, and performance reviews.
  3. Digital note-taking and documentation tools: Leverage tools like Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, or Google Keep to capture and organize feedback conversations, action plans, and performance notes for easy reference and follow-up.

Remember, staying organized and following up on feedback is essential for ensuring its impact on employee development and team success. By utilizing suitable tools and implementing these tips, you can effectively manage the feedback process and promote a culture of continuous improvement.


Five Examples of Bad Feedback Managers Give Employees

1. Vague and non-specific feedback:

“You need to improve your performance.”

Why it’s bad: This feedback lacks clarity and specificity, leaving the employee uncertain about what aspects of their performance need improvement. It needs to provide actionable guidance or specific areas to focus on, making it challenging for the employee to make meaningful changes.

2. Personal attack and criticism:

“You’re lazy and unreliable.”


Why it’s bad: This feedback is highly negative and focuses on personal characteristics rather than specific behaviors or actions. Personal attacks and criticism can be demoralizing and unproductive, eroding trust and motivation instead of fostering growth and improvement.

3. Lack of examples or evidence:

“You’re not a team player.”

Why it’s bad: Without providing specific examples or evidence to support the feedback, the employee is left guessing about their behavior and how it impacts their perceived lack of teamwork. This vague feedback hinders the employee’s ability to understand and address the issue effectively.


4. Overemphasis on mistakes and failures:

“You messed up that project. You’re always making mistakes.”

Why it’s bad: Focusing solely on mistakes and failures creates a negative and demoralizing feedback environment. It fails to recognize any positive contributions or efforts made by the employee and does not provide constructive guidance on how to improve or avoid similar mistakes in the future.

5. Lack of constructive suggestions or guidance:

“You need to do better.”


Why it’s bad: This feedback is too general and lacks specific guidance or suggestions for improvement. Simply stating that the employee needs to do better without providing actionable steps or identifying areas for improvement leaves the employee feeling lost and uncertain about how to meet expectations.

Effective feedback should be specific, constructive, and focused on behavior and actions rather than personal characteristics. It should provide clear examples and actionable suggestions and support employee growth and development.

Five Good Examples of Feedback Managers Give Employees

1. Specific and actionable feedback:

“During yesterday’s meeting, you did an excellent job presenting your ideas clearly and concisely. To further enhance your presentation skills, I recommend incorporating more visual aids to help engage the audience.”


Why it’s good: This feedback is specific, highlighting a particular strength of the employee’s performance while offering a clear suggestion for improvement. It recognizes the positive effort and provides actionable guidance for further development.

2. Balanced feedback approach:

“You’ve been consistently meeting your project deadlines, and your attention to detail is commendable. One area I would encourage you to focus on is proactively communicating updates to the team, as it will enhance collaboration and ensure everyone stays aligned.”

Why it’s good: This feedback acknowledges the employee’s strengths and achievements while also highlighting an area for improvement. It provides a balanced view, motivating the employee to continue excelling while addressing a specific area that can contribute to overall team effectiveness.


3. Growth-oriented feedback:

“Your recent client presentation demonstrated significant improvement in your communication and delivery. Keep seeking opportunities to refine your public speaking skills, such as attending workshops or practicing in front of colleagues, as this will further boost your confidence and impact.”

Why it’s good: This feedback recognizes the employee’s growth and improvement, emphasizing a growth mindset. It encourages ongoing development by suggesting specific actions to enhance the employee’s skills and confidence in a constructive and supportive manner.

4. Feedback tied to organizational goals:

“Your contributions to the project resulted in increased efficiency and cost savings. Your attention to streamlining processes and identifying areas for improvement aligns perfectly with our company’s commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.”


Why it’s good: This feedback ties the employee’s performance to the broader organizational goals, emphasizing the value of their contributions. It reinforces their alignment with company objectives and fosters a sense of purpose and engagement.

5. Timely and immediate feedback:

“I noticed how you handled that customer’s complaint earlier today with empathy and patience. Your ability to de-escalate the situation and find a satisfactory resolution is commendable and reflects our commitment to excellent customer service.”

Why it’s good: This feedback is given promptly after observing the employee’s actions. Immediate feedback helps reinforce positive behavior and builds confidence. It highlights the employee’s specific actions, providing positive reinforcement and emphasizing the desired behaviors.


Effective feedback should be specific, balanced, growth-oriented, tied to organizational goals, and timely. It recognizes achievements, provides guidance for improvement, and fosters a sense of purpose and engagement. Using these examples, managers can create a feedback culture supporting employee growth, performance, and overall team success.

Providing employees feedback is a fundamental responsibility of a manager. By embracing the feedback process, you can drive growth, enhance performance, and foster a culture of continuous improvement within your team. Throughout this guide, we have discussed the importance of giving actionable feedback, overcoming common challenges, helping employees receive and implement feedback, the significance of follow-up, and staying organized.

Remember, providing actionable feedback is an ongoing process that requires commitment and adaptability. Your dedication to helping your employees grow and succeed will enhance individual performance and contribute to the overall success of your team and organization.


So, embrace the power of feedback, lead with empathy, and watch your team thrive.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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