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Surveys & Engagement

How to give feedback that motivates & engages

Leapsome Team
How to give feedback that motivates & engages
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Regular, actionable feedback is fundamental for a successful workplace. In a recent Gallup survey, 80% of employees who’d received meaningful feedback in the past week felt more engaged with their jobs.* The same report also found that giving effective feedback supports agility, improves performance, and retains top talent.

However, many professionals struggle to understand how to give effective feedback. If your message is unclear or indirect, you risk confusing the person on the receiving end. On the other hand, if you’re too frank, your feedback may come across as harsh and damage morale. Worse still, feedback given the wrong way can make a person feel defensive and lead to awkwardness and confrontation.

We wrote this article to help you feel more confident with all things feedback. We’ll discuss five specific steps for sharing effective feedback, provide feedback examples, and consider feedback best practices. Best of all, we’ll provide you with a free feedback template, so let’s begin.

*Gallup, 2024

😎 Feel confident giving feedback

Our free feedback template can help you share constructive feedback with anyone at your workplace.

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How to deliver effective feedback in 5 steps

A screenshot of Leapsome's free feedback template.
If you want more specific, actionable guidance giving feedback, download our free template

The secret to giving great feedback is to realize that the whole point of effective feedback is to start an open conversation and help the person grow. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are five things you should keep in mind if you want to provide effective feedback.

Step 1: Make sure the recipient is prepared for the feedback session

Ensure the employee is in the right headspace for receiving feedback. This is especially important if your company doesn’t have an established feedback culture.

To deliver feedback effectively, ask the person if they’re okay with discussing the situation or behavior you need to talk about. This helps avoid catching them off guard and gives them a sense of autonomy in that exchange.

Help the person understand your reasoning behind initiating the conversation and what they stand to gain. For feedback to be effective, they should understand that the conversation is well-meaning, legitimate, and coming from a place of genuine care.

🚀 Action: Begin the conversation by gauging the headspace of your employees.

Step 2: Clearly describe the situation

Vague feedback that leaves out the “when” and “where” of the situation is ineffective feedback. It might even be perceived as judgmental and make the recipient defensive.

Vague feedback is also challenging for the receiver to incorporate. To deliver effective feedback, describe what happened with specific examples to leave less room for interpretation.

It’s equally as important to tailor your feedback to the recipient’s personality, skills, and situation. As noted in Gallup, “The best managers individualize feedback to employees’ natural talents and performance needs. They ensure feedback is relevant to the individual’s contributions and the organization’s purpose — showing employees how their day-to-day efforts influence the big picture.”

🚀 Action: Follow the “4W” questions model. This means addressing the who, what, when, and where in your feedback to ensure the receiver clearly understands what you’re referring to.

Step 3: Present your take on the situation

A picture of two women sitting across from each other in an office, holding papers and having a conversation.

When considering how to deliver feedback effectively, it’s crucial to avoid accusatory language, generalizations, and “you” statements. 

Keep in mind that when you’re providing your take on something that did or didn’t go well, you might not be aware of everything that’s going on in your employee’s life. So, instead of saying, “You’re never on time for meetings,” start by saying, “I’ve noticed that in the past few weeks, you’ve been arriving late to our weekly meetings. I was wondering if you could help me understand what’s making you late and if there’s anything I could help you with?”

In this case, you’ve provided effective feedback. You’ve pointed out that tardiness isn’t appreciated, but you’ve done it in an understanding and empathetic way that opens up a conversation and offers ways to solve the issue.

🚀 Action: Share your perception of the event or behavior and begin sentences with “I.” For example, “I believe,” “I’ve noticed,” and “I sense.”

Step 4: Give actionable recommendations for improvement

There’s nothing worse than receiving feedback that gives you no clue on how to improve. What makes feedback effective is following the description of the situation with actionable suggestions on how the employee can get better in the future.

An actionable recommendation is:

  • Clear
  • Tangible
  • Something a person can easily put into practice
  • Possible to accomplish within a specific amount of time

For example, saying “you need to give better presentations” only leaves the recipient confused and demoralized. Instead, opt for something like, “to improve your presentation skills, focus on maintaining eye contact with the audience and speaking more slowly.”

🚀 Action: Present clear recommendations for the next steps and make sure they’re actionable within a set amount of time.

Step 5: Turn the session into a conversation

When thinking about how to deliver effective feedback, remember that the process is a two-way street. It should be an engaging conversation — not a lecture. So, wrap your feedback with questions that invite discussion, such as:

  • What do you think about that?
  • How do you feel about what I’ve just shared with you?
  • This is what I think we should do. But I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Could you help me better understand what’s happening?
  • Do you think I’ve made a fair assessment here?
  • How do you think we can improve on this?

By doing this, you’ll showcase your commitment to your employee’s development and create a climate of transparency and trust.

🚀 Action: Clarify your understanding of an issue with employees and ask follow-up questions to turn the otherwise daunting process into an open conversation.
A graphic showcasing the 5 steps of giving effective feedback. These steps include making sure the recipient is prepared for the feedback session, clearly describing the situation, presenting your take on the situation, giving actionable recommendations for improvement, and turning the session into a conversation.

Giving great feedback can be intimidating — but following these five best practices makes it easier
🧐 Need more help sharing feedback?

Our free template takes the guesswork out of providing meaningful, actionable feedback.

Download the template

Constructive feedback examples

Giving constructive feedback is tricky to navigate because it can easily trigger a stress response in the recipient. It’s difficult for a stressed-out person to fully grasp and internalize your message, and it might leave them feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and less likely to improve their performance.

So, here are some employee feedback examples that can help you navigate the waters.

Ensuring it’s the right time to deliver feedback

I wanted to catch up with you and discuss last week’s all-hands meeting. Is tomorrow afternoon a good time for me to schedule a call with you and discuss some feedback I have?

Clarifying the desired outcome of the conversation

“I want to touch on a development opportunity for you, which will help you establish stronger relationships with your colleagues and team members and help you grow as a leader in the company.”

Providing context & describing the situation

During our product session on Tuesday evening, I got the feeling that you weren’t really engaged and seemed a bit preoccupied. Can you shed some light on what was happening?”

Presenting your take on the situation

In my opinion, your body language made it look like you were disengaged, and that impacted your colleagues’ flow during the presentation.”

Making an actionable recommendation

I understand that right now is an especially busy time, and you have a lot on your plate. To avoid missing deadlines, I think it’d be best for you to tackle your tasks in order of urgency. I’d be happy to help you if anything is unclear.

Inviting conversation

“I’d like to address something I noticed the other day when it came to working with the other team. While the final presentation went smoothly, I noticed that you seemed a bit unsure when it came to your section. Can you help me understand why you felt hesitant about your work on the project?

💡 Exchanging meaningful feedback can be just the thing you need to unlock your company’s potential. If you’re wondering how to give better feedback and build a feedback culture that lasts the test of time, consider implementing a dedicated employee feedback tool. These solutions not only help you implement best practices for giving feedback but also prompt team members at all levels of the organization to do so.

4 bonus tips for giving feedback

Sharing feedback is about so much more than just improving performance. It’s about making your reports and colleagues feel valued and supported. Let’s take a closer look at our top four feedback tips and how they come together for a more successful and enjoyable workplace.

Give feedback regularly

Feedback shouldn’t be reserved for performance reviews. One of our top tips for giving feedback is frequently exchanging perspectives with team members as part of your day-to-day work. Doing so promotes a culture of rapid development by ensuring employees receive guidance and support frequently. ‍

For example, if you notice a team member struggling with their communication skills during a team project, it would be much more helpful to address that situation as quickly as possible by setting up a face-to-face meeting or video call within a week.

“[Because] by the time your quarterly performance review rolls around, you will be faced with a plethora of issues that might have been avoided had they been discussed earlier.”

Judah Longgrear, Co-Founder and CEO of Nickelytics

Make your company’s feedback culture dynamic

A screenshot of Leapsome Instant Feedback.
Leapsome Instant Feedback empowers employees to exchange their perspectives and facilitate continuous development

A successful feedback culture creates an environment where employees actively work to support colleagues and improve their own performance and skill sets. Modern professionals are craving more feedback, too — our 2023 Workforce Trends report revealed that 3 out of 4 workers want more feedback and recognition from their managers.

Leapsome makes it easy to give and receive feedback on projects, goals, and achievements, improving company culture and alignment.

Our platform allows you to exchange private and public feedback with anyone in your organization, help employees turn feedback into development, and access feedback analytics. Our Instant Feedback module is great for giving ad hoc feedback and praise, and our Reviews module is ideal for in-depth performance evaluations.

This way, you can use feedback to understand your people, boost engagement, and bring clarity to the goals that matter most.

Use feedback to understand your company

One of our top tips on giving feedback is using it to guide your company’s direction and overall strategy. It can also help you have effective career development conversations with employees.

As an example, constructive feedback about your organization’s onboarding process can turn into a goal to make onboarding more seamless and scalable. Or, an employee’s difficulties with having an eye for detail can turn into training and guidance to help them develop professionally and improve performance.

Leapsome provides a bird’s-eye view of how feedback is being addressed or used to improve the workplace.

Avoid disingenuous feedback-sharing practices

The “feedback sandwich” is an outdated feedback delivery technique that aims to soften the blow of constructive criticism.

It consists of opening the conversation with a piece of good feedback, followed by the actual constructive message, and ending with another slice of positivity.

However, this cookie-cutter approach often comes across as disingenuous and affects the levels of trust between managers and employees. Providing positive feedback is very important — but when it comes in a “sandwich” package, people find it hard to believe the praise that you give them.

A good alternative tip for giving feedback is a “bruschetta” approach. Say what you need to say and mix the positives in with the negatives — all on a growth-focused note.

Top tip: To make implementing, acting on, and tracking feedback easier for employees, consider including it as a personal development goal.

Leapsome can level up your feedback culture

Leapsome’s feedback tool the Praise Wall, which empowers all team members to share praise and recognition for one another
Leapsome’s feedback tools, like the Praise Wall, empower all team members to share praise and recognition for one another

Providing effective feedback is a skill that, once developed, paves the way for both company and individual growth. Besides improving performance, it realigns employee and company goals and keeps the business on track.

Fostering a workplace culture where all team members enjoy exchanging meaningful feedback results in employees who are both engaged and high-performing.

If you want to improve and enrich your organization’s feedback culture, Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module is here for you. All team members can easily share public praise, request private feedback, and connect feedback with company values and competencies. Best of all, our platform is holistic, so it’s easy to reference feedback in your 1:1s and performance reviews.

Leapsome knows that the best organizations prioritize feedback — so we want to help you do just that.

🚀 Build a healthy, dynamic feedback culture with Leapsome

🧰 Leapsome gives you the tools you need to increase employee engagement and improve performance!

👉 Book a demo

FAQs about giving feedback

What is the best way to give feedback?

The best way to give effective feedback to a team member is to:

  1. Stay focused on the problem rather than the person
  2. Remain objective but understanding and empathetic
  3. Offer meaningful and actionable suggestions on how to improve
  4. Give clear examples
  5. Offer support
  6. Point out what they’re doing well
  7. Ask for their opinion on the situation
  8. Remain open to conversation

How do you give feedback examples?

Some examples of ways to give feedback in the workplace include:

  1. “I appreciate how much you’ve improved in X, and I’m excited to see you continue working on developing Y and Z.”
  2. “During the all-hands meeting last month, I noticed some hesitation from your side when giving your presentation. I know you’ve put a lot of effort into preparing your presentation, so I’d love to see you being more confident.”
  3. “Is this the right time for us to talk about X? I’d love to share some feedback on what went well and what can be improved.”
  4. “Thank you for the effort you put into preparing X. Going forward, I’d love to see the provided resources being used to their full potential, so we can achieve Y better.”
  5. “I appreciate that this is an unusually busy time for the team, and everyone is stretched rather thin. However, I’d like you to send me more clear communications about your deadlines so we can readjust them if needed.”
  6. “I think X is your superpower, but I’ve noticed that Y seems to be creating some difficulties for you. What do you think?”

How do I give feedback to peers?

When considering how to provide effective feedback to peers and co-workers, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Ask the person if they’re in the right headspace to hear the feedback
  2. Remain objective 
  3. Keep it constructive 
  4. Be clear
  5. Whenever possible, lead with what the person is doing well
  6. Avoid “you” statements and share your perception
  7. Explain the impact of their growth
  8. Offer meaningful suggestions
  9. Ask their opinion on your statement 
  10. Make giving feedback into a conversation 
  11. Keep it short and to the point

Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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