Empowering growth and excellence: mastering the art of effective feedback
Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.
Feedback in the workplace is any information relating to performance, skills, or ability to work within a team. Its primary objective is to foster understanding and encourage actions that address and rectify ineffective or poor performance, or maintain and enhance a desired level of behavior. This is important, as it enhances personal and professional growth in individuals.
Feedback can take the form of both positive or negative evaluations, serving to break negative patterns , reinforce positive behaviors, and enable teams to collaborate more effectively.
Benefits of Delivering Feedback
Delivered effectively, feedback can:
Improve employee morale and engagement
Reduce confusion regarding expectations and current performance
Provide a new perspective and give valuable insight to the person receiving feedback
Positively impact an individual’s behavior
Feedback is an opportunity to give information to another person that makes it clear what your expectations are and what you need from them.
Feedback promotes honesty and trust and a regular feedback conversation between a manager and direct report can help build trust if it is given in the right way.
Making Feedback Effective
Based on Fact
Being specific in the feedback you provide is crucial, as generalities can be ineffective and in certain cases, even harmful. It is important to focus on concrete information related to observable behaviors rather than relying on assumptions or interpretations. By addressing what you can directly see or hear about a person’s behavior, you provide more meaningful and accurate feedback.
Supported by Evidence
For feedback to be effective, it must be grounded in evidence. When providing feedback on specific errors in a report, for example, it is essential to have the supporting information readily available to demonstrate and highlight those errors. Presenting concrete evidence strengthens the credibility and impact of the feedback, allowing the recipient to understand and address the specific areas that require improvement.
Effective feedback needs to be non-judgmental because the focus needs to be the outcome of the action/ behavior. For example, “When you are unable to deliver your work on time because you cannot find the materials, it impacts the team’s work”. Effective feedback should be about what the individual did rather than who the individual is. Saying something like “You are so disorganized” is really unhelpful and puts the person on the defensive. Stating it instead as “I don’t see you planning your work in a way that enables you to deliver your work on time” is more constructive and helps the person see the situation in a way that they can relate to.
The feedback needs to be relevant to the individual’s job so they can make the connection between their performance and the outcome on their ability to complete the work. It should be about things that a person can change and improve on rather than on something that is outside of their control.
As a leader, you need to have a balance between negative and positive feedback otherwise, employees will only ever come to expect negative feedback if that is all you give. What will be the impact on the culture of your team if you don’t give both positive and negative feedback?
Feedback needs to be constructive. It needs to be focussed on how performance can be improved. What needs to be different? What needs to change? What will it look like?
Effective feedback needs to be a two-way conversation. You need to be open to hearing the individual’s view on the issue and the situation and what might have led to this particular issue.
When you are identifying changes with an individual, you are identifying things that will be different as a result of the conversation, and therefore you need to document it, including getting the individual’s agreement of what was discussed, actions to be taken and the timing of any follow up reviews. This is also important in case this leads to any performance management actions.
Feedback needs to be actioned. The focus of effective feedback is to create action, to drive forward movement. Even giving positive feedback drives the action of continuing to leverage the positive behaviors that your employee is already using, and to continue to feel motivated to do that.
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Giving Effective Feedback.
Take your learning and productivity to the next level with our Premium Templates.
Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI's full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs.
Already have a Self-Study or Full-Immersion membership? Log in
Access Exclusive Templates
Gain unlimited access to more than 250 productivity Templates, CFI's full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs, hundreds of resources, expert reviews and support, the chance to work with real-world finance and research tools, and more.