Employee Feedback 101: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices

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

But with 42% of managers admitting they don’t give enough feedback, these “modern workplaces” may be fewer and farther between than we’d like to admit. There are challenges, for sure; Structuring and streamlining feedback across an organization requires the right attitude, processes, stakeholders, and HR technology, to start.

But never fear — whether you’re struggling with the when and why of employee feedback, or need help integrating a 360 approach to your review process, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to learn about…


Using the seven types of feedback

Think top-down feedback reigns supreme? Think again.

The following seven types of feedback tap into different aspects of your employees’ 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 and is an essential part of employee development at all levels. When done correctly, coaching provides timely, constructive feedback to your employees, including criticism, encouragement, and praise.

2. Mentoring

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

3. 360 feedback

360-degree feedback allows employees to receive confidential, often anonymous feedback from stakeholders, including their coworkers, direct reports, and managers. This allows you and the employee to see how others collectively perceive their contributions and areas of growth, rather than depending on one view alone.

4. Anonymous feedback

Anonymous feedback can be especially valuable in sensitive situations and allows the feedback provider the opportunity to safely and honestly share thoughts and opinions. This approach can be especially useful during times of organizational change or turmoil.

5. Project retrospective

Also known as a post mortem, project retrospectives can 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 and coworkers are invaluable. These grant you and the employee insight into how they work on a team and also let team members know their input carries weight in your company culture.

7. Bottom-up feedback

Because managerial skill and style can vary widely within a single company, 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.

Learn how to capture employee feedback with Kazoo →

 


The two sides of the feedback coin

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

Balancing positive and corrective feedback isn’t an endorsement of the mixed (and often confusing) positive/critical/positive “sandwich” model. Instead, it urges businesses to take the time to identify and praise model employee behavior, such as taking initiative, collaborating with others, and discovering new efficiencies in old methods.

By establishing positive recognition and constructive criticism as equally valid forms of feedback, companies can build cultures in which feedback is seen as it should be: 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 six distinct types of feedback, let’s dive into when and how to use them. Rather than relegating performance conversations to annual reviews, try integrating feedback into the following situations, all year long.

types of employee feedback

Check-ins

Check-ins are perhaps the most casual environment for providing useful feedback and should be viewed as opportunities to build on the relationship between managers and direct reports.

Whether you’re using them to touch base on the status of a project, provide meaningful coaching, or keep tabs on an employee’s emotional wellbeing, check-ins can be used to dive into just about anything. To get the most value out of them, make sure to schedule check-ins once a week, and structure them using one of Kazoo’s 1-on-1 frameworks.

Goal-setting

Whether done quarterly or integrated with weekly check-ins, goal-setting is an opportunity to discuss employees’ short- and long-term professional development and aspirations. Equally as important, goal-oriented feedback sessions should be used 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.

Performance reviews

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 Kazoo, we recommend a quarterly goal setting and review process.)

Employee recognition

As we’ve made clear, positive feedback is just as valuable as constructive criticism. After all, acknowledging model employee behavior has been proven to boost employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Want to go the extra mile? 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 satisfaction, challenges, and concerns.

How to cultivate a feedback culture

Simply put, a feedback culture is an environment in which 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 one in your own company, try implementing the following four strategies in your day-to-day:

1. Adopt a growth mindset

According to Stanford professor Carol Dweck, there are two ways to think about ability. Either the employees have a fixed mindset, and believe that talent is inherent, or a growth mindset, and believe that skills can be developed over time with effort and dedication.

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.


Watch Kazoo’s Director of Engineering, Jeff Israel, explain how he uses vulnerability in 1-on-1s.

As an HR leader or manager, bringing your own vulnerability to the table can go a long way in laying 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” can immediately diffuse 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, as ordinary as getting a cup of coffee. Especially for managers, it’s most helpful to your employees when you’re paying attention and responding dynamically to their needs and challenges, so be sure to share feedback when it’s relevant.

Still skeptical? 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, and empowers employees to take risks and seek new challenges. Help equip your employees with the emotional tools they need to receive and share feedback to help them learn and grow.

Ready to take your feedback strategy to the next level?

Let technology pave the way. Kazoo’s employee feedback software helps businesses create a culture of continuous feedback by streamlining employee check-ins, project retrospectives, 360 performance reviews, and more.

If you’re ready to elevate your current feedback process, check out our performance management overview video or book a demo of the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform today.

Get a Demo

Other helpful resources

Feedback is Not the Enemy
21 Examples of Constructive Feedback for Performance Reviews
The 3 Frameworks for Effective 1-on-1s