Do you want to know how transformational leaders deliver employee feedback? You should because it leads to an increase in workplace engagement and creates happy work environment.

Here’s a simple truth about human nature: We all like to be praised when we do something well. Very few of us enjoy being criticized when we do something poorly.

But both kinds of feedback can ultimately be valuable: We need the affirmation just as surely as we need the correction.

And, as a leader, part of your job is delivering feedback as needed. That means offering both kinds of feedback to your employees—and frankly, it can sometimes be hard to know what to say and how to say it.

Is Employee Feedback Important?

For most of us, receiving feedback isn’t especially pleasant. We like to be praised when we do something right but loathe to be called out when we do something wrong. Sadly, a lot of workplace feedback plays into this dichotomy in the worst way possible: Many team leaders view feedback simply as a way to illuminate shortcomings, and their team members are understandably annoyed by it.

In fact, some organizations have actually eliminated formal feedback processes altogether, viewing it as largely a waste of time and effort. I’m here to tell you that giving and receiving feedback is anything but a waste; it can actually be essential to a maintaining a culture of continuous improvement.

With that said, maybe the specific feedback structures we employ could stand to be improved and enhanced. Let me offer you a paradigm shift that may prove valuable.

New Ways to Think About Workplace Feedback

First, your intent matters. It’s important for leaders to understand their own motivation in providing feedback. Are they looking to make their employee feel bad? Are they trying to “fix” a defective team member? These are frankly bad reasons to give feedback.

Instead, I’d propose two positive motivators for feedback. First, you can administer feedback as a way of starting a dialogue and better understanding why an employee isn’t performing in a certain way. You can use feedback to breed empathy. And second, you can offer feedback with the intention of seeing your team member thrive. Remember, when the team member excels, it’s better for everyone in the organization.

Intent matters, and so does support. If you’re giving feedback to help team members do better, then it stands to reason that you’d also provide them an environment where they feel like they can grow and develop. That means, among other things, not penalizing people for failing… so long as they are willing to learn from their mistakes. Support your employees as they strive to do better, rather than berating them for making missteps.

Tips for Delivering Effective Employee Feedback

Encourage your team members to ask for feedback. When someone actually requests feedback, it’s a lot less threatening. This means they’re much more likely to really listen and absorb it. Lead by example, actively seeking out feedback on your own performance.

Make it clear to your employees that you’re happy to have a low-key conversation about their performance any time they like.

Focus on growth. When your feedback is all about results, it can make your team members feel pressured. You can defray this by encouraging them to think in terms of learning, growth, and personal development. Don’t make your feedback about the bottom line; make it about effort.

Take a Socratic approach. Socrates was famous for teaching by asking questions—guiding his pupils to discovering insights on their own. You can take a similar approach when you give employee feedback, asking team members to reflect on their own performance and come up with some of their own insights.

Think about your audience. When you’re praising an employee, it can often be best to do so publicly—unless you know the employee to be shy, or to eschew public shows of affirmation. Meanwhile, when you criticize, it’s almost never wise to do it in front of an audience; better to take those opportunities one-on-one.

Contact Dr Rick

The Solutions Oriented Leader, for step-by-step advice on transforming your life, your business, and your teamThose are some of my guidelines for effectively coaching and critiquing employees. If you’d like to hear more about how transformational leaders deliver feedback, I’d love to tell you! Reach out today and let’s chat together. You can contact me at or call 888-267-6098.

What is a solutions-oriented leader? Take the free Solutions-Oriented Leader Assessment now and claim your Comprehensive Guide to Achieve Success. Dr. Rick Goodman’s Solutions-Oriented Leader book is now available to order online. In this first-of-a-kind, comprehensive guide, author Dr. Rick Goodman leads you through the everyday challenges of the modern workplace while providing you with easy-to-implement solutions to achieve world-class results!

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