Employee Feedback 101: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices

Employee Feedback 101: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices

Table of Contents

Gone are the days of the annual performance review. Instead, modern workplaces are adopting cultures of continuous feedback to fast-track employee growth and develop meaningful relationships across the business.

Yet 42% of managers still admit they don’t give enough feedback. Because let’s face it: The challenges of structuring and streamlining feedback across an organization are real. And it requires the right attitude, processes, stakeholders, and technology, to start.

But never fear — we’ve got you covered.

Using the seven types of feedback

Think top-down feedback reigns supreme? Think again.

The following 7 types of feedback tap into different aspects of your employee needs, company goals, and human resource processes. When used together, these methods offer a holistic approach for giving, receiving, and acting on employee feedback.

1. Coaching

Coaching is the most common type of feedback. It’s essential to employee development at all levels. Done correctly, coaching provides timely, constructive feedback to your employees,. This includes criticism, encouragement, and praise.

2. Mentoring

Mentoring is like coaching at a high-level. This is an opportunity for your employees to seek feedback about their longer-term career direction and goals. Integrate mentoring into your regular check-ins. Let employees know you’re available for feedback upon request as well.

3. 360 feedback

360-degree feedback lets employees receive confidential, often anonymous feedback from stakeholders. This can include their coworkers, direct reports, and managers. This lets you and the employee see how others perceive them, rather than depending on your view alone.

4. Anonymous feedback

Anonymous feedback is valuable in sensitive situations. This mode lets the feedback provider safely and honestly share their thoughts. This approach is especially useful during times of organizational change or turmoil.

5. Project retrospective

Also known as a post mortem. Project retrospectives provide teams with valuable insight into each stakeholder’s working process. This type of feedback is especially valuable for identifying what went well, what can be improved, and what should not carry on into future projects.

6. Peer-to-peer feedback

Employee reviews of their teammates are worth their weight in gold. These co-worker reviews grant you and the employee insight into how they work on a team. They also let team members know their input carries weight in your company culture.

7. Bottom-up feedback

Managerial skill and style can vary widely within a single company. So it can be challenging to get an objective read on performance from top-down reviews alone. That’s why today’s top companies have discovered the value of flipping the script and tapping into bottom-up feedback. I.e., giving employees a voice by asking for their thoughts on leadership performance.

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Balancing positive and constructive feedback

Effective employee feedback is delivered in real-time. And — here’s the trick — in response to both positive and negative workplace behaviors.

When we say, “balance positive and corrective feedback,” we do not mean the “compliment sandwich” model. (That framework of compliment-correction-compliment can be confusing and sends mixed messages.) Instead, we urge businesses to take the time to identify and praise model employee behaviors. These can include taking initiative, collaborating with others, and discovering new efficiencies in old methods. Our guide, 50 Employee Behaviors to Recognize and Reward, can help make this easy.)

Want to improve your 1-on-1 Sync-Ups? Read:

The Ultimate Guide to Effective 1-on-1s for Managers


By establishing positive recognition and constructive criticism as equally valid forms of feedback, companies build cultures in which feedback is seen as a welcome growth opportunity, rather than a feared punishment. In this environment, you and your employees can work honestly together to grow and drive employee performance and job satisfaction.

When and how to give feedback

Now that we’ve covered the 6 distinct types of feedback, let’s look at when and how to use them, all year long.

Types of feedback, including top-down feedback, peer-to-peer feedback, and 360 feedback


When held weekly, Sync-Ups offer a casual environment for providing feedback. So view these as opportunities to build the relationship between managers and direct reports.

Sync-Ups are great for touching base on goals, providing meaningful coaching, and keeping tabs on an employee’s emotional wellbeing. To get the most value from your check-ins, schedule them weekly, and structure them using WorkTango’s Sync-Ups platform.


Goal-setting is an opportunity to discuss employees’ short- and long-term professional development and aspirations. So use goal-oriented feedback sessions to re-align employee performance to bigger company initiatives. Remember, setting goals at work is one of the most valuable ways to reconnect employees to their higher purpose and role in the success of your business.

Quarterly Performance Check-Ins

Performance appraisals combine all feedback into one consolidated overview of the employee’s performance. These can incorporate 360 and peer-to-peer feedback, as well as manager input. (At WorkTango, we recommend a quarterly goal setting and review process.)

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Employee recognition

Remember, positive feedback is just as valuable as constructive criticism. In fact, acknowledging model employee behavior has been proven to boost employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Want to go the extra mile? Then make your positive feedback public with an employee-driven social recognition feed.

Engagement and pulse surveys

Do an organizational pulse check with a quick, easy-to-answer survey. These simple surveys are a fantastic way to collect peer-to-peer and 360 feedback and get a full sense of employee engagement, challenges, and concerns.

How to cultivate a feedback culture

In a feedback culture, feedback is welcomed as an essential driver of development and growth for individual employees, teams, and the company as a whole.

If you’re looking to foster a feedback culture in your company, try implementing the following 4 strategies:

1. Adopt a growth mindset

According to Stanford professor Carol Dweck, there are two ways to think about ability. Employees either have a fixed mindset and believe that talent is inherent, or a growth mindset. And people with a growth mindset believe skills can be developed over time with effort and dedication — you don’t have to be born with them.

Companies must adopt a growth mindset in the messaging they use with employees, emphasizing the acquisition and deployment of new skills as a result of effort and application. Once leadership is on board, encourage the rest of your team to follow suit. After all, the question driving employees shouldn’t be, “can I do this?”, but rather, “how can I do this?”

2. Tap into your own vulnerability

When trying to improve your communication game, it’s important to remember just how much emotional intelligence and relationship building is required to deliver feedback effectively.

As an HR leader or manager, bringing your own vulnerability to the table lays that foundation of trust between you and your employees. Simple gestures like “I’m also learning” or “This conversation is difficult, but we need to have it” diffuses the tension between leadership and direct reports.

3. Make feedback a daily part of organizational life

Feedback is most effective (and least anxiety-inducing) for employees when it’s part of the regular rhythm of the workplace. So make it as ordinary as getting a cup of coffee. Managers, pay attention and respond dynamically to employee needs and challenges. Share feedback when it’s relevant.

Still skeptical? Well, check out the numbers: Employees in workplaces with weekly coaching and feedback conversations are more than 400% as likely to feel performance reviews lead them to do better work than employees receiving reviews just once a year.

4. Train employees on delivering and accepting feedback

Being open to receiving feedback is integral to the learning process. It empowers employees to take risks and seek new challenges. So help your employees learn and grow by equipping them with the emotional tools they need to receive and share feedback.

Ready to take your feedback strategy to the next level?

So, let technology pave the way.