Professional Partner Content

What It Means to Have Effective Feedback in the Workplace

Giving feedback is a critical way to involve, encourage, and energize others to achieve results and improve their skills. You can use the STAR/AR framework to ensure your feedback is relevant, insightful, and impactful for all the right reasons. Effective feedback in the workplace is:

1. Intentional and Well Prepared
Too many times people have shared that the feedback they’ve received wasn’t delivered well. Leaders also have said that they don’t prepare before sharing positive or developmental feedback. Neither of these statements demonstrate the ways to deliver feedback properly.

Plan how you will give feedback and what you will say ahead of time. You should also consider what forum and format you give the employee feedback in.

In my first professional job, my boss sent me a long email in which I was berated for a mistake I made. My colleague was copied on the email. I was embarrassed that my colleague was privy to the exchange, and the email format didn’t facilitate any conversation to learn from my mistake. Soon after, I left that organization.

While it may be appropriate to share positive feedback via email and to include others to hear the good news, developmental feedback is best delivered face-to-face (in person or over a video call with the camera on) without any bystanders.

2. Specific
While it’s nice when someone acknowledges your work, saying “Good job” doesn’t cut it. Statements of praise alone are vague and don’t tell someone what they did that was good. Try pairing statements of praise with specifics so employees know what behaviors to repeat. You can use the STAR or STAR/AR format to provide specific feedback and ensure your feedback is clear. Describe the situation or task (ST), the actions the person took in response to that situation (A), and the result of their actions (R).

When providing developmental feedback, provide the STAR as well as an alternate action the employee could have taken and the alternate result. The STAR and STAR/AR format ensures that your feedback is focused on the behavior and not on the person.

This method for delivering feedback is evidence of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Leaders with a growth mindset believe in personal and professional growth and development and the ability to learn from mistakes.

3. Consider Personal and Practical Needs
Your feedback will be better received if you are mindful of emotions and how you communicate feedback. Each of us has core human needs to feel valued and recognized for our contributions and to be listened to and understood.

When giving positive and developmental feedback, pay attention to what emotions your employee expresses and respond with empathy. Failing to notice or acknowledge emotions can be a barrier to delivering feedback effectively and building trust with your employee. When you deliver feedback that criticizes and doesn’t recognize effort, you can damage esteem. You should also be mindful of your tone and nonverbal behavior when delivering feedback.

Additionally, you should be mindful of meeting an employee’s practical needs when you deliver feedback. Sharing positive feedback gives team members actionable information about what they can keep doing to be successful in their work. Sharing developmental feedback offers goals for team members to work toward, proving their capability to grow and learn.

4. Timely
Provide feedback as close to when the performance happens as possible. Saving feedback for formal performance reviews doesn’t have the same impact as delivering it as soon as you see a behavior. Saving feedback for formal conversations also doesn’t give the employee the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve along the way.

Learn more about delivering feedback well on DDI’s blog.

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