What is the quickest way to improve productivity and employee engagement in the workplace? It comes down to the simple practice of employee feedback. In a study by Harvard Business Review, 40% of Americans said they would work better if they felt recognized. The data is out and it’s clear: Employee feedback needs to be a routine practice at workplaces.
But it’s not. The same HBR study found that a shocking 82% of employees don’t feel recognized for their contributions. This gap is hurting our workplaces every day, and we need to fix it.
The main reason employee feedback is difficult is that communication is not a priority at workplaces. Supervisors are too busy to focus on the avoidable task of giving employee feedback. To make the process easy, here are a few good feedback examples. You can use these templates to improve employee engagement quickly and effectively.
Good Employee Feedback Examples to Increase Employee Engagement
Often, employers categorize feedback into ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. This is not the ideal way to think of feedback in the workplace. The aim of feedback is not to pass judgments, but to direct future employee behavior.
All good employee feedback examples have one thing in common – they are constructive, not judgemental. Supervisors can use feedback to encourage certain behaviors. They can also use it to discourage unwanted habits. Here are the two kinds of feedback more suited to the workplace, and their examples
Reinforcing Employee Feedback Examples
As the name implies, reinforcing employee feedback means that we want the employee to repeat a certain good behavior. By appreciating a particular feature of their work or behavior, we signal to them that we want more of this.
Here are a few ways to reinforce employee behavior by giving them good feedback.
Identify Good Traits
All of us want to do work that makes us feel good about ourselves. When employees show good traits, they should be appreciated. One of the best ways of giving reinforcing employee feedback is to point out the good personality traits of your employees. Here are some examples –
“I think you’re great at …”
This employee feedback is simple but highly effective. When a supervisor points out that an employee is particularly good at something, the employee feels like they’re adding value with their skills.
“Your ability to ___ is something I really appreciate about you.”
This feedback example is more about the supervisor than the employee. It signals that these are the traits that make the supervisor happy. All employees want their supervisors to be pleased with them. Telling them specifically what you appreciate in employee feedback is a good way to direct that desire.
“You have this superpower when it comes to …”
This is glowing praise, of course. But it is also great employee feedback if you want employees to take the lead on certain kinds of tasks. Let’s take an example – an employee is particularly good at presentations. Their supervisor gives them reinforcing employee feedback, telling them ‘Presentations are really your superpower!’ This will motivate them to take the initiative to present whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Point Out Great Work`
Praising employee traits in feedback is a broad approach. Sometimes, you will want to specifically reinforce certain aspects of an employee’s work you’d like to see more of. In that case, here are some employee feedback examples to help you out –
“The way you did ___ was amazing. It showed that you had ___”
This is a way of pointing out great work in employee feedback while also appreciating traits. When you want to specify how exactly you want the employee to use their positive trait, this template comes in handy.
“I would love to see you do ____ more often.”
This employee feedback is as specific as it gets. If you noticed a good thing an employee did, point it out and ask them to do it more often. It sounds strange, but it’s as simple as that. Asking for more of the good work makes employees feel good, and pushes them to keep replicating it.
Redirecting Employee Feedback Examples
Redirecting employee feedback means that we want the employee to do things differently. This kind of feedback can often be sensitive and requires tact and careful wording. The most important thing is to communicate the feedback constructively.
With redirecting employee feedback, timing is everything. Make sure to not bombard employees with this kind of feedback. Get to know how they’re doing first. It’s important to check if they’re in the right frame of mind to receive such feedback. Here are some examples to help you out.
Keep It Specific
When it comes to reinforcing employee feedback, commenting on personal traits is encouraged. For redirecting feedback, we want to avoid getting personal as much as possible. Keep it focused on the work and how to do it better in the future.
“I’d like to discuss how ____ went. Is now a good time?”
This start to the conversation is great because you check in with them first. Are they available for reviewing their work? Employees feel a nudge to get in a positive headspace to discuss constructive criticism. Then you can take the conversation forward.
“How do you think ____ was? What went well and what didn’t go so well?”
The power of this employee feedback is that you may not have to provide criticisms yourself. If you ask employees to reflect on their work, they might identify areas where they fell short. All you have to do then is agree with them. This way, you’re not playing the role of a supervisor. It feels more like two colleagues having a constructive discussion.
“Do you feel like the ____ approach is working?”
When giving employees feedback, it can be powerful to hear their side of the story. If there’s a specific behavior you want to redirect them on, ask them why they do it. Approaching the conversation with this curiosity signals that you’re empathetic. Also, don’t shy away then to express your feedback once you hear them out.
Get Personal Without Offending
To redirect someone on their personality traits, of course, is extremely tricky. But sometimes its the only option left. If regular redirection on their work isn’t working, you’ll have to have the hard conversation. Here’s how to do it softly.
“I’m having trouble with your ___ because of ___. Could you help me out?”
As a supervisor, this is a tough situation for you. Use that to evoke empathy in your employee feedback. Explain to the employee how their behavior put you in this tough spot. They are less likely to take it personally and might change their behavior to help you out. No one gets hurt, and the problematic behavior is dealt with.
“This is really hard for me to say but …”
Sometimes you just have to say it directly. In that case, make sure you express that you care about how the employee feedback is going to make them feel. Expressing that this is hard for you, again, evokes empathy. Employees are likely to take the feedback in a constructive spirit to make it easier for you.
How to Give Good Employee Feedback
Great employee feedback involves some common elements. Here are some tips to help you give better employee feedback. Use them to increase employee engagement and create a happier workplace.
1. Timing is Everything
Yearly employee assessments are great, but they don’t take timing into account. With regular employee feedback, you can use timing to your advantage.
For reinforcing employee feedback, it’s best to give it when the project is just finished. Instant appreciation keeps employees motivated for future projects.
For redirecting feedback, you should likely wait for a while. Try to find the right environment when employees aren’t too bogged down or highly sensitive.
2. Keep Specific Examples Handy
When giving employee feedback, instances related to work should drive your feedback. Otherwise, it could feel like a personal grudge or insincere appreciation.
Using specific examples to make your point helps keep personal feelings out of the employee feedback. They also help improve work quality in the future.
3. Focus On The Future
With employee feedback, the biggest mistake supervisors can make is to dwell on the past. It can be tempting to settle past scores, but it’s unproductive and even harmful. Focusing on the future is crucial to keep feedback constructive.
What happened in the past is a sunk cost. Focus on what you need from your employees in the future. Give employees feedback that helps them improve rather than point out their mistakes.
4. Prepare Beforehand
It’s a mistake to think of feedback sessions as just casual conversations. They’re not. Employee feedback is a crucial element in maintaining employee engagement.
Don’t hesitate to prepare specific things to say. It’s no less important than preparing for an important pitch or presentation.
These examples and guidelines help bring structure to tough conversations with employees. As a supervisor, you may underestimate the importance of these conversations. To an employee, however, good feedback can help them be more engaged and motivated. There is no excuse anymore to take feedback lightly.
Whether you use these examples or come up with your own, the important thing is to make employees feel recognized. Companies need to make employee feedback a regular part of the workspace culture. That is the only way to increase productivity and quality of work.
Good employee feedback, in the end, comes down to good communication. The importance of open communication at workplaces cannot be emphasized enough. If teams can communicate within themselves, they will self-correct and produce great work. This is something we already know. It’s time now to take it seriously and make employee feedback a habit. At little cost, we will have happier workplaces and better productivity.