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High-Performing Leaders Embrace Continuous Feedback

A man and woman are sitting at a table and looking at a tablet.

​To improve your team's performance, don't rely solely on annual performance reviews. Give feedback -- both positive and negative -- regularly. 

When continuous feedback is a part of your standard operating procedures, you will create a more robust culture with open communication and employees who understand and demonstrate your organization's values. 

Those organizational qualities are directly related to retention, engagement, and productivity, because when your employees feel like they are a part of the larger system, they welcome your feedback and understand how to represent the organization best. 

Your clear and ongoing feedback helps your employees be more connected and engaged. It supports them in building their skills and abilities, and should be used to encourage their professional growth and recognize their efforts. 

Everyone wants to be acknowledged when they make a big effort, and positive feedback proves to be a powerful motivational driver. 

5 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback 

If you are hesitant to offer feedback, especially when it might be taken negatively, keep in mind that employees want to know if they are on the right track. They want to be appreciated and noticed when they're doing well and given the opportunity to course-correct when they are going down the wrong path. 

A lack of feedback breeds disappointment and leads to a communication disconnect, whereas effective feedback creates connection and increases engagement. 

To increase your effectiveness at giving feedback:  

  1. Celebrate in public. When an employee has excelled, made a significant effort, or demonstrated their commitment, celebrate and acknowledge them publicly. Allow the entire team to witness such acknowledgment and celebrate together. Let your employee bask in the limelight for a moment. Even a verbal "pat on the back" can go a long way. Many leaders underestimate the value of their acknowledgment for a job well done. Not only does positive reinforcement encourage the employee receiving it, but it also is something they will remember. It motivates the rest of the team to excel as well.
     At some point, everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their hard work and talent. Your public comments clearly show that excellence and effort are important, noticed, and celebrated. If you wish to provide additional feedback, such as how they can improve even further, schedule a private meeting. 
  2. Criticize in private. Don't make an example of someone in front of others; schedule a private meeting. Public shaming is never acceptable. It doesn't benefit you or the organization, because it closes the door to open communication and creates a psychologically unsafe environment for all. Public shaming is toxic, abusive, and disrespectful. So if you are giving negative feedback to an employee, and you know the information could be embarrassing or uncomfortable, give them the courtesy you would expect to receive. Be respectful not only in how you present the information but also in where the conversation takes place. 
  3. Tell them your intentions. Let them know that you are glad to have the opportunity to offer feedback, and you hope they will take the information and use it to grow, advance in the company, or improve their skill set. Make it clear that you intend to be helpful, not judgmental or critical. You seek to support them in being the best they can be in their position, thus the feedback. You can also start by saying something positive such as appreciating their effort and thanking them for meeting with you. 
  4. Be specific. Your feedback should be clear, respectful, data- or experientially based, and thoughtful. You want your employee to leave the meeting knowing that you were not simply being critical but were offering valuable information to help them do better. Explain your expectations for the project or their role at the company. Discuss mistakes by using relevant and recent examples wherever possible. Help them understand the implications that resulted from the error or miscommunication, such as a delay in distribution, increased stress, or unnecessary conflict. 
  5. Give constructive suggestions. You should not discuss a problem without offering some direction or advice. You can provide a solution or suggestions or brainstorm together, but don't drop something in their lap and move on to the next item on the agenda. If, for some reason, there is no solution, state it as a fact and perhaps mention your disappointment about that outcome. Show support by talking it through with them so they understand their role and how to proceed going forward. Be open to hearing their perspective as it could help prevent future errors.  

When you offer sensitive feedback to your employees thoughtfully and constructively, you set the tone for the entire organization. You help build trust. And then your staff will give you the benefit of the doubt that your feedback is never intending to be hurtful but only given to help them learn and improve. Providing your team with continuous feedback creates a culture of trust, open communication, and greater connection.

This article was written by Debra Roberts from Inc. and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to


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