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Giving employees feedback can be daunting. What if you say the wrong thing? What if they get upset? There are so many things that can stop you from giving an employee feedback. So, we decided to help you out by doing a brief guide on what you need to do.

Firstly, think about why you are giving the feedback. Normally the reason you want to give feedback is to improve a situation or performance. To improve a situation or performance, you need to address this in an appropriate way. Put yourself in that person’s shoes – would you want someone to give you feedback by being harsh, overly critical, offensive, or abrupt? Probably not. I know I wouldn’t. With this in mind, you need to be constructive when giving feedback, but what does that actually mean?

There are 2 feedback models that we like. They are simple, easy to follow, and get the point across.


Feedback Models

The first one is called SBI. This is what it means:

S – Situation. Describe the situation with the specifics. Be factual.

B – Behaviour. Describe the behaviour observed (rather than the motivation)

I – Impact. Describe the impact that the behaviour had.


The second one is called BEAR (not that type of bear). This is what is means:

B – Behaviour. Give an example of the behaviour you wish to discuss “I have noticed that you were late 5 out of 6 times for our team meetings.”

E – Effect. You need to tell the employee what effect this has. “When you are not on time for our meetings, the team has to wait until you arrive. This causes the meeting to run later or means that we don’t have time to cover all of the topics”

A – Alternative. At this point you need to explain what alternative behaviour you wish to see. “I would like to see you arrive on time for all meetings. If you need us to change the start time of the meeting, please speak to me and if we can, we will adjust the times.”

R – Result. Explain to the employee

If you use either of these models, your feedback will be constructive and delivered in the best way. What you will have noticed in both of these models is that YOUR opinion isn’t factored in. While your opinion is important, it’s not relevant when giving feedback. It’s not going to help them to improve the situation or performance.

The only thing that you then need to do is watch your tone of voice and the choice of words. Lots of conflict arises from the way people say things and not what they say. It is really important that you keep a neutral tone of voice. If you become angry or accusatory when you’re giving feedback, the chances are that the employee will either speak to you in the same tone or they will switch off. Either way, the improvements you want, won’t happen.


Frequently Asked Questions on Giving Feedback

We have an open plan office and limited private spaces, so I tend to perch on the edge of their desk and give them feedback or have conversations with my staff – that’s OK isn’t it?

It is difficult when you work in an open plan environment especially if private space is at a premium. However, perching on the edge of their desk is not a great idea even if you speak quietly. It is still very public, and you can’t be certain when you start the conversation how they will react.

Plan the feedback and book a private space. Chats at the desk are fine for social discussions or checking up on work related progress and the like but not for giving feedback.

Can’t I just be totally honest with them?

Honesty is important but if what you mean by this is be blunt then no you are not advised to do this.

You can still get the message across in a calm neutral and diplomatic/empathetic way especially if you use one of the feedback models previously discussed.

We do an appraisal every 6 months so can’t I just give feedback then?

Appraisal are a great time to reflect on performance over the previous appraisal period but should not be the first time an employee hears feedback (unless the feedback is only available very close to the appraisal meeting, e.g. quarterly stats report)

Feedback should be timely and can then be discussed in an overview of performance at the appraisal.

They know if they are doing a good job so why do I have to tell them?

Yes, we advise you do. Everyone is different in terms of the amount of external verification they need. Positive feedback charges the employees ‘battery’ giving them energy (motivation, self esteem etc) to continue to perform to the highest standard and strive to do the best in their role.

Some people need this little and often, some only occasionally and they can keep running for a long time. Get to know your people and what they need to keep their batteries fully charged.


Want some more advice on giving feedback to employees? Check out our Feedback Skills course available on our Effective Learning and Development site.

Need a more hands on approach when it comes to feedback? Contact us at or give us a call on 03300 414589

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