Giving feedback isn’t easy! However, it’s something managers must do to keep employees engaged and informed. Failing to provide feedback or allowing bias to creep into the process are equally concerning and may result in disengagement, loss of productivity, and cultural rifts. Today, we’ll discuss how to give feedback, outline the common struggles and risks of giving bad feedback, and discuss how managers can learn to deliver effective, honest, fair, and impactful feedback that motivates and drives results.


Tips on How to Give Fair and Impactful Feedback

Here are a few essential tips to consider when providing feedback.


1.     Provide feedback immediately

Giving feedback is an integral part of any professional relationship. It helps keep everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal. However, it’s also vital to ensure that your feedback is constructive and helpful, and that requires an immediate response. Waiting too long after the fact or allowing several issues to stack up over time can confuse and overwhelm. Immediate feedback helps prevent misunderstandings and relieves the frustration managers might feel around addressing an uncomfortable situation.


2.     Focus on the action, not the person

Focusing on the action or behavior—rather than the person—can be a difficult distinction to make, but it’s an important one. For example, if an employee makes a mistake, it’s easy to criticize in a way that makes the person feel like they are less than.

In personalizing your response, you put the individual on the defensive and make them feel bad about themselves. Instead, try to focus on the action. For example, you could say something like, “I noticed that you didn’t proof your work before turning it in. Next time, could you please take a few extra minutes to review your work before handing it in?” This kind of feedback is specific and objective. It doesn’t make the person feel bad about themselves, but it does encourage them to change their behavior in the future.


3.     Make the exchange mutual

Addressing the need to change can be difficult. Making the conversation a mutual endeavor is a way to achieve the results you want without causing undue stress to either party. Focus on why you need to have the conversation and what the impacts of the desired change will be. State your positive intentions in providing the feedback and connect it to the employee’s positive motivations.

For example, you know that your employee wants to be viewed as a capable and helpful part of the team. Perhaps you can express your concern that the person’s performance makes it difficult for others to see them in that light.

Keep in mind also that a mutual discussion requires some listening on your part. Perhaps you should lead by asking the individual to tell you their perspective. You may gain valuable insight into why the behavior happened in the first place—which might force you to adapt your response.


4.     There’s a time and place for feedback

Feedback is a critical part of any professional relationship. It allows us to assess our performance, identify areas for improvement, and build strong and productive partnerships. However, feedback also needs to be delivered in a way that is respectful, constructive, and founded on trust.

If you cannot offer feedback in the moment, choose your time and place carefully. Think about times when the individual will be most receptive to the exchange and try to avoid moments like just before a meeting or when they’re about to leave for the weekend. Context is critical if you want what you say to penetrate. If you require a more formal setting, do it early in the day at the start of the work week, so they have a chance to put your suggestions into action.


5.     Contextualize the problem

There are times when bias creeps into performance review scenarios and results in an unfair situation assessment. For example, you may have a female employee working from home, and you feel she is not collaborating adequately with her team. Ask yourself first how you feel about their work and contribution in general—and then think about whether you would think differently about the situation if she was in the office every day. It’s easy to disregard employees you don’t see all the time. Perhaps she needs to adapt her schedule to engage with in-office staff more. Don’t immediately assume the problem lies with her.

This is just one example, but it covers two types of bias: gender and proximity. It also shows how difficult bias can be to recognize. Other aspects of bias include racism, ageism, affinity bias (preference for people who are more like ourselves), and attribution bias (the misconception that women are less competent than men).

Contextualizing the problem before you give feedback means tying the issue to specific business goals without the influence of conscious or unconscious bias.


6.     Focus on the future

As a manager, one of your most important jobs is to elevate your employees. Actionable feedback is a way to accomplish this and will almost always improve performance. Feedback often focuses on events that happened in the past. While the core issue likely happened before your conversation took place, the future is where the change will happen—so that’s what you need to focus on.

Spend less time talking about the event itself than you do about the improvements you want to see. You can’t do much about what’s already happened, but you can shape how things move forward. With a positive outlook, a clear and actionable plan, and an honest, two-way dialogue, much can be accomplished.


Final Thoughts

When providing feedback, we should always be clear, direct, and specific. Above all, we must strive to be fair. To maximize the impact of feedback, managers must remain objective, be aware of hidden biases, and allow employees to provide their own perspectives. Feedback isn’t always easy to give, but we all improve with practice.

Tools to Help Managers Become Performance Coaches

emPerform is a complete performance management platform that includes an entire toolset designed to help align, develop, engage & retain valuable talent, including online reviews, ongoing feedback, coaching assistant tools, peer feedback and more.

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Employee reviews before you know it With employee performance reviews coming up soon for many, we wanted to let you know that we are here to help!

emPerform can have you up and running with simple & intuitive online appraisals plus added functionality to help save you time & unnecessary administrative tasks PLUS built in tools to help you get strategic about your year-round talent management processes.

How can we help? Flexible online appraisal forms, SMART goal management, templates, 360° reviews, easy pay for performance, social feedback & reporting – all in one super easy to use package for the best value- guaranteed.

Get started before employee reviews sneak up again: watch our  5 minute tour video or schedule a demonstration.

What are you using for appraisals and performance management? Paper? Spreadsheets? Fax? A tediously formatted document that employees and managers don’t want to use? A makeshift in-house system designed by your IT department as an attempt to solve your appraisal nightmares? Nothing at all? Any of these answers wouldn’t surprise us.

Our close contact with HR professionals gives us access to plenty of horror stories. And too many of these stories are about outdated (pre-emPerform!) management strategies for appraisals and overall performance documents.

We admit we’ve seen some pretty crafty solutions, including meticulously formatted spreadsheet forms with umpteen versions floating around and some very ‘attractive’ and buggy intranet-based IT web forms. Over and over again, we see a focus on executing the process and very little time and focus left over for strategic performance management tasks and analysis. So what are some key indicators that it’s time to ditch your current processes and modernize?

21 Signs you Need emPerform: Read More

Top 10If you are a manager or HR specialist who has been hammering away at the same annual employee evaluation process year after year but don’t seem to be getting measurable results, you might be doing any of three things wrong. First, you may be using a method that doesn’t suit your business model. Second, you may be using a software platform that doesn’t suit your goals, or finally, you may be making some of the following appraisal mistakes. emPerform is counting down the top 10 appraisal mistakes: Read More

How many times each year does your company tackle the formal employee evaluation process? If you’re like most successful businesses, your manager-to-employee ratio makes this process cost effective about once every twelve months, usually close to the end of the fiscal year or the weeks leading up to the holiday season. But while a single annual evaluation keeps time investments and costs under control, an entire year can sometimes be too long for employees to wait for formal feedback and coaching.

Consider the benefits of adding an additional mid-year evaluation to your talent management strategy.

1. Coaching and follow up. Read More

You may have your employee evaluation process carefully planned out, and you may be making excellent use of performance evaluation software (like emPerform) to keep employee goals and performance metrics on track. But without proper execution and follow up, your employees may not be walking away with all the tools they need for Oops! Roadsignsuccess. Are you making any of these common evaluation mistakes or skipping these steps during and after your review cycle? If so, your process might benefit from a closer look.

Here are some common mistakes evaluators make when conducting performance review meetings:

1. Ignoring self-evaluations. After your employees have gone to the trouble of completing self- evaluations, don’t just ignore this information during your meetings. Review the results carefully beforehand and use them to guide your conversation with Read More

emPerform Prescription

Since 2004, CRG emPerform has been giving HR professionals the tools they need to streamline and automate their approach to talent management. emPerform’s online performance management software has been helping organizations everywhere transform performance reviews to better align, develop, reward, and retain a top-performing workforce.

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?

  • Current appraisal process resulting in administrative nightmares?
  • Dizziness when trying to organize an effective 360° peer feedback strategy? Read More

Now that your performance management system is on track, your technology and workflows are up and running, and your employees are buying into your chosen metrics and processes, you can sit back and relax. After all, once employees know how their performance will be evaluated during Light Bulb Terrariumeach cycle, they’ll have all the motivation and tools they need to manage their own growth…Right?

Not exactly.

Effective performance management is an art and a science, and even when you think you have every kink worked out and every detail under control, you’ll still need to be ready for change. The good news is that if you know what to look for, you can avoid veering too far off track. Keep these considerations in mind as you move forward. Read More

Chairs sitting in a circleWe are pleased to announce the availability of version 4.4 of CRG emPerform. Among the list of enhancements and added functionality, this latest release offers integrated 360° performance reviews.

Using multiple perspectives to complete employee reviews is quickly becoming the standard for an effective performance management strategy. Managers often have a limited perspective when it comes to assessing employees and 360° feedback offers the ability to gain insight from people who work closely with one another to generate fair and accurate reviews that have value and can be used for decision making.

“We are pleased to offer this latest release to our customers,” said Anant Rege, our Chief Technical Officer. “We know that many of today’s businesses require more than just manager feedback in the performance appraisals process.   Managers and employees need a tool that enables ongoing feedback and a 360° account of performance and goals. This latest release adds that and more to a set of robust tools already present in emPerform.”

emPerform 360° review functionality is included with the software at no additional cost and enables:

  • Employee and/or manager 360° peer nomination
  • Status tracking of 360° reviews
  • Visibility of 360° results from inside appraisal forms
  • Automated email notifications for 360° reviewers and managers

Version 4.4 is currently available for upgrade to all emPerform customers.

For more information about emPerform, visit:

Download the Whitepaper: The Changing Face of 360° Reviews and Performance Feedback

HR's Role in Employee Evaluations

In most workplaces, nobody better understands the needs of a position than the manager who supervises that position. When it comes to evaluating the fitness of a job candidate, onboarding and training a new employee, assigning responsibilities to that employee, and evaluating how well those responsibilities are carried out, immediate supervisors have the optimal vantage point. While department heads, upper management, and HR all play a role in employee development, none of them have the proximity that makes a direct manager a crucial player in the assessment process. Read More