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How to give feedback to employees: 10 tips for leaders

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Feedback is a powerful tool that can enhance your team’s performance, if it’s given correctly. I lead a team of recruiters and know it takes practice!

Based on my experience, here are ten best practices for how to give feedback to employees in a way that’s constructive and effective.

10 strategies for giving feedback to employees

1. Tailor your feedback.

When you’re giving feedback as a manager, it’s important to consider who you’re talking to. You’ll likely need to adapt your communication style based on the employee.

Giving direct feedback

Some people prefer receiving direct feedback. For example, if you’re giving performance feedback and notice an associate didn’t meet their goals last quarter, you might say something like:

“I reviewed your quarterly performance goals and saw you didn’t reach your target metrics. Let’s discuss strategies to help get you back on track.”

Giving feedback using the CORE method

On the flip side, direct feedback may cause some associates to shut down. In that case, you might use the CORE model instead:

C: Context - Describe the specific situation that brought on the feedback.

O: Observation - Explain what was said or done.

R: Result - Discuss the most meaningful consequence to you and to them.

E: nExt stEps – Talk about what the expected next steps are.

Here’s an example of how this type of feedback is given:

“You did a great job presenting metrics to the business last quarter. However, I noticed you didn’t have the answers to several follow-up questions. This made you appear less knowledgeable on the topic than I know you really are. Let's practice your next presentation together so you can be better prepared for questions that might be asked.

2. Give timely feedback.

It’s usually best to give feedback right away rather than wait for a formal review. Prompt feedback allows for immediate adjustments and minimizes the chance of repeating mistakes.

The best time to give feedback is during a one-on-one meeting. But you may want to add an extra meeting to your team’s calendars if the feedback is urgent or needs more discussion.

3. Prepare for the conversation.

Before you give feedback to an associate, set aside time to plan what you're going to say and how you’re going to say it. This ensures you cover all the necessary points in a constructive way.

Prepare by:

  • Finding the key points you need to address.
  • Gathering specific examples to support your observations and feedback.
  • Practicing how you deliver the feedback to make sure it’s clear and respectful.

4. Provide context.

Context is key when providing constructive feedback. Explain why the associate needs to improve a certain skillset. Then tie it back to how their actions affect the business.

For example, I might tell a recruiter that they need to improve their time management skills. I'll then explain how their response time impacts a job applicant’s experience and the business’ candidate pipeline.

5. Use data to support your feedback.

Numbers don’t lie. Back up your feedback with data. This highlights the importance of the changes you advocate for.

Based on the example above, I’d use data to show the number of candidates we lose if the recruiter doesn’t respond in a timely manner.

6. Offer clear guidance.

Once you provide the feedback, reset expectations. Lay out clear steps the employee should take to improve.

Following the same example, I would suggest the recruiter blocks off one hour in their calendar every day to respond to leads. I would also state the time frame for when the recruiter should reach out to the prospect once the lead comes in.

7. Prepare for different reactions.

Constructive feedback can stir up a range of emotions. While you can’t control how someone else reacts, you can control how you respond to their reaction.

Stay calm, be empathetic and listen to the associate’s questions. If you give feedback on a serious concern, write out exactly what you want to say to help you stay on topic.

8. Find extra resources.

Sometimes, people need extra help to improve. Consider using other resources to support the associate’s development. You can:

  • Set the associate up with a mentor who excels at the skill that needs improvement.
  • Provide articles or online workshops the associate can leverage to learn new best practices.
  • Arrange sit-ins to help the associate get a better understanding of the business.

9. Follow up with the associate.

Set up time to check in with the associate on the feedback you gave. You can do this during your one-on-one meetings.

Be sure to discuss:

  • Progress on the actionable steps you provided.
  • Any challenges or setbacks they’re facing.
  • If they need any extra support.

10. Recognize positive changes.

Feedback is a continuous dialogue. Make it a point to commend positive changes the associate made. This shows your investment in the employee’s professional growth.

It will also encourage them to keep moving forward.

Explore areas of improvement for leaders.

Being an effective leader takes practice. Transform your leadership style with these insightful insights to help you motivate and encourage your team. 
About the author
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Becka has been with Schneider since 2013 and has held multiple roles within Schneider Transportation Management (STM), including Broker, Senior Broker and Dallas STM Recruiter. In her current role, Corporate Recruiting Manager, she oversees a team of corporate recruiters. Becka’s favorite part of her day is when she gets to connect quality candidates to positions that will allow for success both personally and professionally.

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