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16 constructive feedback examples — and tips for how to use them
Giving constructive feedback is nerve-wracking for many people. But feedback is also necessary for thriving in the workplace.
It helps people flex and grow into new skills, capabilities, and roles. It creates more positive and productive relationships between employees. And it helps to reach goals and drive business value.
But feedback is a two-way street. More often than not, it’s likely every employee will have to give constructive feedback in their careers. That’s why it’s helpful to have constructive feedback examples to leverage for the right situation.
We know employees want feedback. But one study found that people want feedback if they’re on the receiving end. In fact, in every case, participants rated their desire for feedback higher as the receiver. While the fear of feedback is very real, it’s important to not shy away from constructive feedback opportunities. After all, it could be the difference between a flailing and thriving team.
If you’re trying to overcome your fear of providing feedback, we’ve compiled a list of 16 constructive feedback examples for you to use. We’ll also share some best practices on how to give effective feedback.
What is constructive feedback?
When you hear the word feedback, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What feelings do you have associated with feedback? Oftentimes, feedback conversations are anxiety-ridden because it’s assumed to be negative feedback. Unfortunately, feedback has this binary stigma, it’s either good or bad.
But in reality, there are plenty of types of feedback leveraged in both personal and professional relationships. They don’t all fall into one camp or the other. And each type of feedback is serving a purpose to ultimately better an individual, team, or work environment.
For example, positive feedback can be used to reinforce desired behaviors or big accomplishments. Real-time feedback is reserved for those “in the moment” situations. Like if I’ve made a mistake or a typo in a blog, I’d want my teammates to give me real-time feedback.
However, constructive feedback is its own ball game.
What is constructive feedback?
Constructive feedback is a supportive way to improve areas of opportunity for an individual person, team, relationship, or environment. In many ways, constructive feedback is a combination of constructive criticism paired with coaching skills.
16 constructive feedback examples to use
To truly invest in building a feedback culture, your employees need to feel comfortable giving feedback. After all, organizations are people, which means we’re all human. We make mistakes but we’re all capable of growth and development. And most importantly, everyone everywhere should be able to live with more purpose, clarity, and passion.
But we won’t unlock everyone’s full potential unless your people are comfortable giving feedback. Some employee feedback might be easier to give than others, like ways to improve a presentation.
But sometimes, constructive feedback can be tricky, like managing conflict between team members or addressing negative behavior. As any leader will tell you, it’s critical to address negative behaviors and redirect them to positive outcomes. Letting toxic behavior go unchecked can lead to issues with employee engagement, company culture, and overall, your business’s bottom line.
Regardless of where on the feedback spectrum your organization falls, having concrete examples will help set up your people for success.
Let’s talk through some examples of constructive feedback. For any of these themes, it’s always good to have specific examples handy to help reinforce the feedback you’re giving. We’ll also give some sample scenarios of when these phrases might be most impactful and appropriate.
Constructive feedback examples about communication skills
An employee speaks over others and interrupts in team meetings.
“I’ve noticed you can cut off team members or interrupt others. You share plenty of good ideas and do good work. To share some communication feedback, I’d love to see how you can support others in voicing their own ideas in our team meetings.”
An employee who doesn’t speak up or share ideas in team meetings.
“I’ve noticed that you don’t often share ideas in big meetings. But in our one-on-one meetings, you come up with plenty of meaningful and creative ideas to help solve problems. What can I do to help make you more comfortable speaking up in front of the team?”
An employee who is brutally honest and blunt.
“Last week, I noticed you told a teammate that their work wasn’t useful to you. It might be true that their work isn’t contributing to your work, but there’s other work being spread across the team that will help us reach our organizational goals. I’d love to work with you on ways to improve your communication skills to help build your feedback skills, too. Would you be interested in pursuing some professional development opportunities?”
An employee who has trouble building rapport because of poor communication skills in customer and prospect meetings.
“I’ve noticed you dive right into the presentation with our customer and prospect meetings. To build a relationship and rapport, it’s good to make sure we’re getting to know everyone as people. Why don’t you try learning more about their work, priorities, and life outside of the office in our next meeting?”
Constructive feedback examples about collaboration
An employee who doesn’t hold to their commitments on group or team projects.
“I noticed I asked you for a deliverable on this key project by the end of last week. I still haven’t received this deliverable and wanted to follow up. If a deadline doesn’t work well with your bandwidth, would you be able to check in with me? I’d love to get a good idea of what you can commit to without overloading your workload.”
An employee who likes to gatekeep or protect their work, which hurts productivity and teamwork.
“Our teams have been working together on this cross-functional project for a couple of months. But yesterday, we learned that your team came across a roadblock last month that hasn’t been resolved. I’d love to be a partner to you if you hit any issues in reaching our goals. Would you be willing to share your project plan or help provide some more visibility into your team’s work? I think it would help us with problem-solving and preventing problems down the line.”
An employee who dominates a cross-functional project and doesn’t often accept new ways of doing things.
“I’ve noticed that two team members have voiced ideas that you have shut down. In the spirit of giving honest feedback, it feels like ideas or new solutions to problems aren’t welcome. Is there a way we could explore some of these ideas? I think it would help to show that we’re team players and want to encourage everyone’s contributions to this project.”
Constructive feedback examples about time management
An employee who is always late to morning meetings or one-on-ones.
“I’ve noticed that you’re often late to our morning meetings with the rest of the team. Sometimes, you’re late to our one-on-ones, too. Is there a way I can help you with building better time management skills? Sometimes, the tardiness can come off like you don’t care about the meeting or the person you’re meeting with, which I know you don’t mean.”
A direct report who struggles to meet deadlines.
“Thanks for letting me know you’re running behind schedule and need an extension. I’ve noticed this is the third time you’ve asked for an extension in the past two weeks. In our next one-on-one, can you come up with a list of projects and the amount of time that you’re spending on each project? I wonder if we can see how you’re managing your time and identify efficiencies.”
An employee who continuously misses team meetings.
“I’ve noticed you haven’t been present at the last few team meetings. I wanted to check in to see how things are going. What do you have on your plate right now? I’m concerned you’re missing critical information that can help you in your role and your career.”
Constructive feedback examples about boundaries
A manager who expects the entire team to work on weekends.
“I’ve noticed you send us emails and project plans over the weekends. I put in a lot of hard work during the week, and won’t be able to answer your emails until the work week starts again. It’s important that I maintain my work-life balance to be able to perform my best.”
An employee who delegates work to other team members.
“I’ve noticed you’ve delegated some aspects of this project that fall into your scope of work. I have a full plate with my responsibilities in XYZ right now. But if you need assistance, it might be worth bringing up your workload to our manager.”
A direct report who is stressed about employee performance but is at risk of burning out.
“I know we have performance reviews coming up and I’ve noticed an increase in working hours for you. I hope you know that I recognize your work ethic but it’s important that you prioritize your work-life balance, too. We don’t want you to burn out.”
Constructive feedback examples about managing
A leader who is struggling with team members working together well in group settings.
“I’ve noticed your team’s scores on our employee engagement surveys. It seems like they don’t collaborate well or work well in group settings, given their feedback. Let’s work on building some leadership skills to help build trust within your team.”
A leader who is struggling to engage their remote team.
“In my last skip-levels with your team, I heard some feedback about the lack of connections. It sounds like some of your team members feel isolated, especially in this remote environment. Let’s work on ways we can put some virtual team-building activities together.”
A leader who is micromanaging, damaging employee morale.
“In the last employee engagement pulse survey, I took a look at the leadership feedback. It sounds like some of your employees feel that you micromanage them, which can damage trust and employee engagement. In our next one-on-one, let’s talk through some projects that you can step back from and delegate to one of your direct reports. We want to make sure employees on your team feel ownership and autonomy over their work.”
8 tips for providing constructive feedback
Asking for and receiving feedback isn’t an easy task.
But as we know, more people would prefer to receive feedback than give it. If giving constructive feedback feels daunting, we’ve rounded up eight tips to help ease your nerves. These best practices can help make sure you’re nailing your feedback delivery for optimal results, too.
Be clear and direct (without being brutally honest). Make sure you’re clear, concise, and direct. Dancing around the topic isn’t helpful for you or the person you’re giving feedback to.
Provide specific examples. Get really specific and cite recent examples. If you’re vague and high-level, the employee might not connect feedback with their actions.
Offer support and encouragement. Especially if you’re a leader, it’s your job to support your employees. Are you offering professional development? How are you instilling confidence and trust in your team? Do your employees have access to resources like coaching?
Set goals for the behavior you’d like to see changed. If there’s a behavior that’s consistent, try setting a goal with your employee. For example, let’s say a team member dominates the conversation in team meetings. Could you set a goal for how many times they encourage other team members to speak and share their ideas?
Give time and space for clarifying questions. Constructive feedback can be hard to hear. It can also take some time to process. Make sure you give the person the time and space for questions and follow-up.
Know when to give feedback in person versus written communication. Some constructive feedback simply shouldn’t be put in an email or a Slack message. Know the right communication forum to deliver your feedback.
Check-in. Make an intentional effort to check in with the person on how they’re doing in the respective area of feedback. For example, let’s say you’ve given a teammate feedback on their presentation skills. Follow up on how they’ve invested in building their public speaking skills. Ask if you can help them practice before a big meeting or presentation.
Ask for feedback in return. Feedback can feel hierarchical and top-down sometimes. Make sure that you open the door to gather feedback in return from your employees.
Start giving effective constructive feedback
Meaningful feedback can be the difference between a flailing and thriving team. To create a feedback culture in your organization, constructive feedback is a necessary ingredient.
Think about the role of coaching to help build feedback muscles with your employees. With access to virtual coaching, you can make sure your employees are set up for success. BetterUp can help your workforce reach its full potential.
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.