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What is constructive feedback? Constructive feedback is guidance that helps the recipient achieve a positive outcome. Even the best managers struggle to deliver less than positive feedback effectively—so we’ve developed these 20 employee feedback examples to help.
Constructive feedback examples for speaking over others
An employee who speaks over others in meetings can seem rude or overbearing. However, they may feel this exact trait reflects their passion, expertise, or leadership qualities. So, appeal to this enthusiasm:
1. “It’s clear you’re excited about the project. But sometimes, when you get excited, you don’t leave room for others to bring their ideas to the table. In particular, I noticed that you spoke over David and Muriel several times throughout the meeting. Did you notice this, too?
2. “In group setting, I’d like you to make space for others in conversations and meetings. It’s a necessary skill for your career development and helps utilize the full talents of the team. What do you think?”
Constructive feedback examples for poor communication skills
Communication can be challenging if employees are anxious about coming to you with questions or obstacles. Encourage communication by setting clear expectations and responding positively to updates.
3. “I really appreciated how you kept me up to date on X project this week — it helped me coordinate with our stakeholders, and I’m excited to share that we’re on track to launch. It’s also great to see your process. I’m impressed with the efficiencies you’re introducing.”
4.“I’m curious about where we are with Y project. If any issues have come up, it’s best that I know as soon as possible so I can help you get back on target. How about you shoot me daily updates just so I know where we are?”
Constructive feedback examples about time management and deadlines
Time management issues can signal disorganization or unrealistic ambition. In both cases, focus on this as an opportunity for professional growth.
5. “I can’t help but notice that this is the third deadline that’s caught up to you this month. I understand this is a fast-paced environment, and I think you’d be more effective if we rethought your time management strategies.”
6. “Thanks for letting me know you’re running behind schedule on this project. Let’s take a look at your goals and see how you’re spending your time — I bet there are opportunities for efficiencies there.”
Constructive feedback about missing goals
Your most engaged employees will already be disappointed in themselves for missing a goal. Acknowledge their disappointment and their hard work, and reframe the issue as a learning experience about goal-setting.
7. “It’d be great to see you take on fewer projects, or narrow your focus to be more attainable. What do you think?”
8. “Your work on X, Y and Z were solid, valuable accomplishments this quarter. I know you didn’t complete every goal you set, and that’s okay—it’s great to see you reach high. But I recognize it can be discouraging, too. So let’s take this opportunity to rethink your goals moving forward.”
Constructive feedback examples about attention to detail
Mistakes happen. When giving feedback, cite specific examples to help the employee see where you’re coming from. You can help provide a valuable perspective shift, and suggest a solution.
9. “You know I’ve always appreciated your grasp of our larger vision, and it’s great you see big-picture. But you’ve missed out on some smaller details in your last few projects, like X and Y. Unfortunately, that ultimately set the team back because they had to correct those oversights.”
10. “I’d love for you to keep that big-picture vision while working on those little blind spots. For your next project, let’s put together a detailed checklist of all your deliverables to make sure you don’t miss anything. Give it a shot, then let’s follow up and reassess from there.”
Constructive feedback examples for tardiness and absenteeism
In many cases, employees who are perpetually late or absent have difficulty self-organizing and may already feel embarrassed.
Resist focusing on the employee as the problem. Instead, call attention to the issue, and help redirect by focusing on the effect the tardiness or absenteeism has on the person’s ability to excel in their day-to-day tasks.
11. “Hey, I noticed you weren’t in our last few morning meetings. I’m concerned you may have missed some important information, and it’ll be difficult for other team members to sync up with you. I’d like to take the time to go over what you missed now. Then, let’s work out a plan together so this doesn’t continue to happen in the future.”
Constructive feedback examples for failing to problem-solve on one’s own
An effective employee feels empowered to take initiative and solve problems—and when they don’t, they can slow and distract others on the job.
Highlight their competencies to help them feel confident and stretch their wings.
12. “You did a fantastic job collaborating with your team last week, but I worry you may have derailed Jeanette by seeking their help with X. I’ve seen you work, and I’m confident if you’d thought about it a little longer, you could’ve come up with a solution on your own. I know you can do it. Do you believe you can?”
13. “It’d be great to see you tap into your resourcefulness and apply it to problem-solving before reaching out to others. Try sitting with an issue for 5 minutes before you reach out to anybody else. If this doesn’t work, touch base with me and we can come up with a solution.”
Constructive feedback when engagement seems low
If an employee’s performance has dropped, there could be any number of reasons—from personal life changes to disengagement. The underlying cause will change the conversation, so address the topic generally.
14. “I wanted to touch base and see how things are going. You don’t seem to be quite as engaged at work lately—is there something I can do to help you get back on track? I’d like to keep you happy here. Let’s set a time to review your goals and responsibilities and make sure we’re on the same page.”
Constructive feedback examples for a toxic attitude
Address toxicity in the workplace swiftly before employee negativity demoralizes your team. Emphasize you’re listening to the employee and want to be helpful. But also be clear about the impact of their behavior on the team and company.
15. “I’m glad we’re taking the time to touch base. I feel like you haven’t been as happy at work lately. How do you feel? Is there something I can do to help you have a better experience here?”
16. “I appreciate your input. When you have an issue, it’s helpful for me and the team if you share it with me so I can address it. That’s a positive, productive move. If you talk to your teammates about your issues, I can’t help you solve them, and it creates an atmosphere of negativity.”
Constructive feedback examples for office gossip
A little “harmless gossip” is rarely that. A few whispered words can rapidly snowball into morale-reducing drama. If you learn an employee has been gossiping, address them directly and privately.
17. “I know there are a lot of rumors flying around about X, and I know you’re concerned about it. I value your trust and contributions here, so I’d like to set the record straight and explain what I can.”
18. “I understand your feelings, and I know it’s frustrating when you feel your questions aren’t being answered. In the future, though, please bring your concerns directly to me. When you share them with your teammates, it creates a company culture of fear and negativity without providing answers.”
Constructive feedback examples about emotional intelligence and rudeness
In a dream world, IQ and EQ would go hand in hand. In busy offices, they can clash like titans. Avoid making the individual feel ganged up on—emphasize you’re listening.
19. “Hey, I wanted to touch base and see how you felt about your work this week. Samika mentioned that you used a sarcastic tone with them in a meeting and it made them uncomfortable. We need to be able to function as a team, and I was hoping to hear your side of the story to see if everything’s okay.”
20. “This morning you left our team meeting early. I could tell you were frustrated by the discussion, but walking out on your teammates doesn’t show them the same respect they showed you during the conflict. How can we find a solution moving forward?”
What is constructive feedback?
Constructive feedback is guidance that helps the recipient achieve a positive outcome.
Constructive feedback is corrective, but not critical.
A good litmus test if you’re about to deliver criticism or constructive feedback is to ask yourself: “Do I have the other person’s best interest at heart? How would I feel in their shoes, receiving this feedback?”
If your answers are, “I’m not sure,” and “probably terrible,” take a step back. Examine what you want to say. Is it necessary, or are you just blowing off steam? If it’s necessary, find a way to reframe it. Use our tips in this next section to deliver constructive feedback like a champion.
How do you give constructive feedback?
1. Clarify what you hope to achieve with the feedback
Ask yourself: “What is my desired outcome? How can I deliver feedback in a way the employee will be open to receiving while also guiding us toward that desired outcome?” Answering these two questions will help you determine both what to say and how to say it.
2. Be timely with feedback
Deliver feedback when it’s still relevant. The fresher, the better. This helps the other person make changes while they still have time to make an impact. “You did improve, but you were late to a lot of meetings early last quarter, and it was disrespectful to the team” doesn’t help anybody. It just makes the employee feel bad knowing their team was upset with them, and has no impact on their current behavior.
3. Give feedback face-to-face
Let’s face it — giving constructive feedback can be awkward for both parties. But don’t give into the temptation to send hard feedback over Slack or email. It’s just too easy to misinterpret text. Deliver your feedback in real time, either in person or on video chat, so you can see how the other person is reacting, and answer any questions they might have. Plus, the ability to deliver constructive feedback is a powerful skill to have. Practice. It’s good for you.
4. Be specific in your feedback, and avoid scope-creep
Focus on one target area for constructive feedback at a time. If the person has a heaping pile of things that needs correcting, pick the highest-impact item and start there. Receiving too much constructive feedback at once can be overwhelming. At worst, it may make the employee shut down and resent you. And even in best case scenarios, the person may simply not know what to correct first, and be paralyzed or go off in the wrong direction. Also, as demonstrated in the constructive feedback examples above, use specific examples to support your feedback. Never give feedback based on your feelings alone.
5. Don’t be personal in your feedback
Give constructive feedback for the behavior, not for the person. An easy way to do this is to use the sentence structure, “When you [action],” or “Your performance on [project],” rather than using sentences that start with “You are.” A constructive feedback example about behavior is, “When you talk over Pam in the meetings, you’re making all the women on our team feel less comfortable speaking up.” As opposed to, “You’re really rude to people, and it’s dragging down the team.”
6. Explain the impact of the employee’s action
Help your employee by explaining the full impact of their actions—on you, on the team, on the company, and on their career. Let’s look at one of our employee feedback examples above, #18:“I understand your feelings, and I know it’s frustrating when you feel your questions aren’t being answered. In the future, though, please bring your concerns directly to me. When you share them with your teammates, it creates a company culture of fear and negativity without providing answers.” This manager could have stopped with, “Please bring your concerns directly to me.” But by going the extra step and explaining why the behavior needs correcting, they help the employee understand the issue clearly. It becomes a learning opportunity.
7. Offer action steps, and follow up
As a general rule, if you can’t offer actionable advice to help the person move toward a positive outcome, then your feedback isn’t feedback. It’s a gripe. Help the person figure out next steps. They may not always be the action steps you’d have picked for yourself. But try what works for them. Then, set a meeting in a week to touch base and see their progress.
What about positive feedback?
We often focus on redirecting negative behaviors. But recognizing and reinforcing positive workplace performance is just as important, if not more. Integrally, it helps create a culture in which feedback is welcomed rather than dreaded — a culture open to dynamic, positive growth.
Drive employee engagement by reinforcing positive behaviors with affirmative feedback and public recognition.
Here are some examples of positive employee actions you can acknowledge with meaningful feedback and encouragement:
- Demonstrating leadership skills
- Providing a morale booster
- Being supportive and helpful
- Attending training or pursuing professional development
- Caring for the workspace
- Being a safety leader
- Facilitating a positive customer interaction
- Taking initiative on a project
- Receiving a positive customer review
At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only holistic Employee Experience Platform built for the modern workplace that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.
WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. To learn more, check out our platform overview video, or schedule a demo.