8 Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Feedback

Written by Golzar Meamar

April 11, 2017


We are entering “touching-base” season for some companies, and annual performance review season for others. Make sure your feedback is effective, clear, and not “news” to your employees, as well as communicative of the major goals you want them to achieve in the future. And, as an employee, solicit and receive feedback appropriately. Here are eight things to do and not to do when giving, or getting, feedback.

When giving feedback:

DO: Be direct and specific! Give details of what your employee is doing right, as well as what they may have done incorrectly. Let them know what is expected of them the next time around. Be straightforward to avoid any confusion, and make sure your body language reflects the message you are sending.

DON’T: Use the word “you” along with a negative comment. Statements like “You failed to” or “You did not complete…” can be counterproductive to the feedback process. They come off as accusatory.

DO:  Be timely. Don’t let your feedback be news to your employee. Make sure that the feedback is delivered quickly, in order to make sure everyone involved remembers the details of the event that took place.

DON’T: Use the word “but.” Leading feedback with a compliment is common, but too often, employers undercut their compliment with the word “but.” Words like this, used often to pivot into complaints or negative comments, can hurt the feedback process. They negate the compliment given before them.

When getting feedback:

DO: Listen actively! Show your employer that you are taking their feedback seriously by asking clarifying questions and paraphrase their feedback. This will help you show that you care, but also show that you are thinking of ways to work forward on the feedback given to you.

DON’T: Explain why you did something wrong. This practice rarely resolves the problem and makes you come across as defensive. It can also make you look like someone who makes excuses instead of someone who takes responsibility for their actions.

DO: Solicit specific feedback. While it is important for an employer to give timely feedback, it is important for an employee to ask for it. This makes it clear that you are open to receiving the feedback and want to improve.

DON’T: Be afraid of pauses and periods of silence when receiving feedback. The pause allows for more thoughtful and clear responses from your employer, and may be more beneficial for you in the long run.