How to Give Effective Feedback at Work

Quality feedback can have a significant impact on the productivity and behavior of employees in a company. This is quite an important issue, because regular and quality feedback is essential for clarity and coherent work. That said, the moments of feedback are when most resentments, misunderstandings, and unconstructive conflicts occur.

In this article we will share the basic principles of successful communication.

Why do we need feedback?

Studies show that feedback is one of the most effective ways to improve the performance and quality of work of employees. Recently, a growing number of companies are implementing a system of continuous feedback at a mandatory level, the first among them were Deloitte and Adobe.

At the same time, in our experience, few people know how to give feedback correctly: without non-constructive criticism, with care and benefit for the learning process and change. Inappropriate feedback harms efficiency, and the atmosphere in the team easily becomes, as it is often not quite ethically said today, toxic.

A recent 2019 study showed that failure feedback that targets a person’s ego does not help learning. The recipient of such feedback is worse at remembering what he or she did wrong and how to do it right. There is another side to this – feedback that is not directed at the individual and emphasizes successful actions is precisely better for learning.

Informing a colleague of what needs to be corrected in his or her work is important and necessary. However, it is useful to learn how to do this effectively and ethically.

A culture of constructive openness

It is important to help your team work on the development of communication, as in the new digital economy, leading teams are increasingly aware that communication and culture, in general, create a company.

When teams start to realize the importance of communication and see problems in it, the concept of “toxic relationships” emerges, which is what they come to various coaches and psychologists with.

It is this kind of “toxicity” that these professionals will turn their attention to. Working with them will make it morally easier and safer for the team, but their goals will not actually be realized, because this focus does not take into account the business objectives.

In matters of culture and communication, one cannot simply fight for all that is good and against all that is bad. The team is not a community of interests or a hobby group. Teams must make a quality product and achieve goals.

In the 21st century, a new nuance is added here – they must do it comfortably and humanely. Without this, turnover and psychological hell arise. And without a result and a goal, everything can be pleasant and good, but in this case the company will die.

Therefore, it is important to take a broader approach, which not only teaches employees not to hurt each other with incorrect feedback (this is definitely important, right and necessary!). But to keep a bigger focus on building a new culture: constructive openness, honesty and straightforwardness.

That is, to help the team create the habit of communicating in a way that is authentic to that team without harming the individual or impeding the free flow of important information. Such a culture ideally increases the effectiveness and sustainability of a team or company.

Because it does not tolerate unconstructive criticism and, at the same time, delicate silence about a tension or problem.

Then information begins to flow through all levels quickly and clearly, without creating a constant trail of grievances and unresolved conflicts. And the team begins to win in the marketplace in a more devious way than in classic business: it begins to outperform through speed of learning and adaptation rather than USP, scale or efficiency. This context is important to consider strategically.

Principles of building a new culture

1. To build a culture of candor, employees and staff must learn to express their opinion honestly and directly

To do so, they need to act in good faith and in a constructive way. Giving feedback is not to hurt the other, but to help them deal productively with all the processes, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It’s all about motivation and the state from which the feedback is given. Both of these factors are so subtle that they are often not considered or noticed at all, yet they are extremely significant.

2. We should not focus on the problems, but on the goals of quality communication

Teams often have a problem with psychological safety, passive aggression, and verbal abuse. We can over-focus on these behaviors of people because they cause pain and tension. But it is more important to focus on the desirable future that is possible in a culture of candor.

It’s a future in which the team creates a brilliant product. To get there, people on teams need to talk up, down, and horizontally more quickly and clearly about what is good and what is bad.

3. We must help develop mindfulness and self-regulation skills

A key principle of constructive feedback is to give it sincerely and out of concern. Therefore, we should regularly check our state and level of motivation. This requires learning to pay attention to what is happening to us-or developing a practical mindfulness skill.

What is Mindfulness Skill? This is the skill to notice what I feel now and what is happening in the field of my sensations. How do I feel in my body, thoughts and emotions? Without this skill, it is simply impossible to understand your motivation and it is difficult to notice in what state the person you are giving feedback is and how capable he is to hear it, whether it will be useful to him at the moment.

Without direct contact with ourselves and the other, all of our effective communication is like a suitcase without a handle.

The more employees hear about what they need to get right, the better they do. The less backroom discussions there are and the work is greatly accelerated at the same time. The key is free-flowing information that helps the team reflect on their experiences and learn faster than others.

Rarely in any task can a clear line be drawn where one’s responsibility ends and another begins. And that means that there is a lot of interaction between colleagues.

At the same time, nowhere do we learn how to give constructive feedback: how to give it and how to receive it. Putting the first and second together, it becomes clear that the key to a good product and design is the ability to constructively communicate your idea to a colleague, so that a dialogue occurs that results in our decisions becoming stronger

The opposite approach, which people learn faster (it’s easier and more obvious), is the same toxic behavior. It leads to the fact that even inherently useful arguments people shut down and do not perceive them, while the overall result suffers.


It is important to believe in everyone’s talent and to notice when solutions become better and stronger in the process of discussion at work.  It is worth maximizing this effect, but it all works with some tweaking of the process: increasing empathy, the competent format of giving feedback, the ability to accept it, and generally changing the cultural space.

Author’s bio

Jean Hartley is a professional content writer. She successfully works for an essay writer freeOpens in a new tab. service and also manages remote projects. Jean has over 3 years of experience in a worldwide marketing agency.

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