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How to Effectively (And Professionally) Give Honest Feedback

Being a boss comes with its rewards and challenges, including having to initiate uncomfortable conversations. Giving honest feedback can be one such situation, particularly if the feedback is negative or critical. While it may be difficult to deliver such feedback, it’s essential to remember that the feedback you’re providing is valuable and can help employees improve their performance. In this article, we will discuss some tips for giving honest feedback effectively and professionally.

Why Honest Feedback Is Important

Providing honest feedback is essential in any workplace as it helps employees grow and improve their performance. It’s important to communicate areas where they’re doing well and areas where they need to improve. When employees receive constructive criticism, they know exactly what they need to work on and how to improve their performance. This feedback can help them learn and develop new skills, leading to their and the organization’s success.

However, delivering honest feedback is not always easy. Discussing an employee’s shortcomings can be difficult, and there’s always a risk of negative reactions or conflict. That said, there are ways to give feedback effectively and professionally without causing undue stress or creating a hostile environment.

Tips for Giving Honest Feedback

Be Kind and Respectful

When providing feedback, it’s important to be kind and respectful. The tone and manner feedback is delivered can greatly affect how the employee receives it. Avoid being too critical, harsh, or judgmental. Instead, provide specific examples of areas that need improvement, and offer constructive suggestions for improvement.

For example, instead of saying, “You’re not meeting our expectations,” you could say, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been struggling with meeting deadlines lately. Can we discuss what’s happening and how we can help you improve?” This approach is more respectful and collaborative and shows that you care about the employee’s success.

Have the Conversation in Private

Feedback is a personal matter, and providing it in a private setting is essential. Conversation in front of others can make the employee feel embarrassed, belittled, or even humiliated. This can lead to defensiveness or resentment and can damage the working relationship.

To avoid this, schedule a private meeting with the employee, and choose a quiet and comfortable place to hold the conversation. Ensure there are no distractions, and focus on the topic.

Use Specific Examples

When giving feedback, use specific examples of behaviors or actions that need improvement. Be clear and concise, and avoid generalizations or assumptions. This helps the employee understand exactly what they need to work on and provides a basis for future improvement.

For example, instead of saying, “Your work is not good enough,” you could say, “I’ve noticed that there have been several errors in your reports recently. Can we discuss how we can work together to improve the quality of your work?”

Base Feedback on Actions

When giving feedback, focus on actions and behaviors rather than personal characteristics or traits. For example, instead of saying, “You’re not a team player,” you could say, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been participating in team meetings and activities lately. Can you share with me why that is?”

By focusing on actions, you avoid making assumptions about the employee’s personality or character, which can be hurtful and unproductive. This approach allows the employee to understand how their actions are perceived and what they can do to improve.

Offer Positives With the Negatives

When giving feedback, it’s important to offer positive feedback along with constructive criticism. This helps to balance the feedback and shows that you recognize the good work that the employee has done while also offering areas for improvement.

For example, an employee has been doing a great job on a recent project but consistently missing deadlines. Instead of criticizing their lack of timeliness, you could start the conversation by acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the project. You could then move on to discussing the issue of missed deadlines and how it’s impacting the team’s productivity. By starting with positive feedback, you create a more collaborative environment where the employee is more likely to be receptive to the feedback and work with you to find a solution.

In addition to offering positive feedback and constructive criticism, it’s important to be specific and offer actionable suggestions for improvement. Instead of just telling an employee they need to improve their communication skills, give specific examples of where their communication has fallen short and offer suggestions for improving in those areas.

Feedback is a Valuable Tool for Growth and Development

Following these tips can create a more productive and positive feedback experience for you and your employees. Remember, feedback is a valuable tool for growth and development, so it’s important to approach it with kindness, respect, and a willingness to work together to achieve success.

After reading these tips, you should feel more confident in giving honest feedback to your employees. Remember, giving feedback is an opportunity for growth, and using these tips can make it a productive experience for you and your employees.

Need a Hand with Your Hiring Needs?

If you need help with your hiring needs, HTSS, Inc. is here for you. Our staffing firm has provided flexible solutions and superior customer service to businesses in Emmaus, PA and the surrounding areas since 1993. We offer last-minute fill-ins, permanent hires, and professional searches nationwide. As a privately held and woman-owned company, we prioritize local decision-making and help meet your supplier diversity needs.

Let us help you build strong, ethical working relationships with your employees by providing the right talent for your organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.


CEO Letter

As a staffing and recruitment professional for over  30 years, I have seen many changes in the industry. Over that time, I’ve witnessed a transformation in the way organizations view staffing services. Today, we see more and more companies using staffing services as a strategic tool, rather than just for temporary fill-ins.

At HTSS, Inc., our focus is on helping companies create proactive workforce plans. Our goal is to help our clients use staffing strategically to increase capacity, overcome hiring freezes, access specialized talent, better manage increased workloads, and enhance overall productivity.

For our candidates, we help to uncover truly rewarding job opportunities—jobs that are a match to each candidate’s skills, and jobs that offer key experience and growth potential.

We look forward to strengthening our relationships with our current clients and candidates, as well as forming new and exciting partnerships in the future.


Pat Howells
HTSS, Inc.