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The Art of Giving Great Feedback at Work

If you’ve been around for a while in your New York career and progressed to the point of managing others, you understand the challenge of giving honest and constructive feedback to your employees. You likely understand the value that a good review process can bring and also know how awful and useless they can be when good processes do not exist. Feedback is a gift that your employees, and your company, needs to grow and thrive. Here are the three best practices I recommend in giving effective feedback.

How to give feedback at work (Photo: iStockphoto)

Be brutally honest and supply irrefutable evidence
Feedback sessions are only useful when pretense and political correctness leave the room. I know how tough it can be to live up to this ideal, but the best and most effective bosses I, and many of my executive clients, have ever had tend to be those who are not afraid to tell the truth. So my suggestion is to be like one of those guys, but you have to make sure that you can back every claim (especially any negative ones) you make with a detailed, written record whenever possible.

Grade your employee against measurable objectives
Every year managers and employees go through the charade of setting goals in January. Many companies are very disciplined about this and get it right, but I would argue that many more companies are very ineffective and get this totally wrong. If you have agreed to a set of clear, measurable objectives with your employee at the start of the year, giving great feedback is easy. You can always refer to what was agreed to on paper and can revise objectives as priorities change over time. Your employee will appreciate the elimination of doubt and clarity.

Prioritize regular check-in meetings with your team
No doubt you are guilty of this. Constantly re-scheduling “check-in” sessions with your employees to the point where they don’t even happen, become de-valued and disregarded altogether. Your good intentions are worthless if you don’t prioritize the time to give members of your team feedback. Avoid this by sticking to a meeting, resist the urge to cancel due to your hectic schedule and demonstrate to your employees that you value feedback as much as your employees appreciates receiving it.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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