The Dos and Don'ts of Giving Feedback as a Manager: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn the dos & don'ts of giving feedback as a manager, & discover tips and examples to empower your team and improve performance

March 23, 2023
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Providing employee feedback is essential to managing a team, as it helps people grow and do better at their jobs and personal lives. However, giving and receiving feedback can be an uncomfortable exercise. Whether it's feedback from a manager or feedback to managers, expressing your views in the workplace is not easy. But it's not just about what you say—it's about how you say it.

How feedback is delivered can make or break your relationship with your team members and influence their motivation, morale, and performance. So, it's vital to understand the best practices for giving feedback, as this can help you empower your team members to grow and excel in their roles.  

In this article, we'll dive deep into the do's and don'ts of giving feedback as a manager, offering practical tips and insights on providing constructive feedback that will enhance work performance while fostering a positive work environment. Get ready to sharpen your communication skills and make a lasting impact on your team!

What Should a Manager Ensure When Giving Feedback?

Inadequate feedback is one of the leading factors of employee turnover. According to a survey of 2,000 employed persons in the United States, including part-time and full-time, firms' inability to respond to employee input may motivate employee flight. 

Feedback transcends the terse note on our performance review. It should be more frequent and focused on recent observable events. In recent years, we've noticed a movement in organizational culture toward creating this culture of fast and abundant feedback.

Yet we must ensure that the criticism we offer is helpful. To do this, it's essential to consider the following best practices alongside their respective manager feedback examples:

1. Be prepared

You can't afford to blunder through a feedback session. Not thinking through the process and the intended outcome may have you using the wrong words to describe an event or turn the session into a full-blown personal criticism of the employee. For example, blurting out, "You did a terrible job!" is not as helpful as "The presentation was not up to our standard today. What happened, and is there a way we can stop this from happening again?"

2. Be empathetic

Put yourself in your employee's shoes and consider how the feedback may be received. This will help you approach the situation with sensitivity and understanding. However, do not assume you understand everything they're going through, as it might appear obnoxious. Avoid sentences like, "If I were you…," "I would've…."

3. Be precise and practical

Communicate the issue and provide specific examples. Offer actionable steps for improvement to help your team member understand what they need to do to progress. A vague "Nice one" is not as helpful as a "Your report was well-prepared. Those graphs helped convince Ms. A. Well done!"

4. Use the appropriate tone

Be respectful, professional, and supportive in your delivery. An appropriate tone can make all the difference in how your feedback is received.

5. Encourage a two-way conversation

Allow your team member to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter. This can lead to a more productive and collaborative discussion. You can also ask them if they have any good feedback for the manager or questions to ask a manager, and then listen actively. 

6. Provide ongoing support

Feedback is not just pointing out areas for improvement; you should offer resources, training, or mentorship to help your employee address the issue and develop their skills. Instead of, "You better start coming earlier," how about you say, “Is there any way we can support your commute? Would a hybrid solution appeal to you?”

What Should a Leader Not Do When Giving Feedback?

Let's go over some pitfalls to avoid when giving feedback to employees. These tips won't automatically transform your feedback process overnight, but they'll make it much easier to provide valuable and actionable feedback.

1. Don't give negative feedback in public

Providing negative feedback to others in the presence of colleagues can be embarrassing and demoralizing for the employee. It punctures their self-esteem and can ruin employee dynamics. Always aim to give feedback privately to avoid undermining their confidence and credibility.

2. Don't make personal attacks

Focus on the behavior or performance issue rather than criticizing the individual personally. Refrain from using language that is accusatory or judgmental. Instead of saying, "You are terrible at this role," you can use, "I feel that we might find a role more suited to your marketing skills in the so and so department."

3. Don't be ambiguous

Being unclear about the issue or how it can be resolved can confuse and frustrate your team member. Be specific and provide actionable suggestions for improvement.

4. Don't put off feedback

Timely feedback is crucial for effective learning and development. Delaying feedback can result in the employee continuing to make the same mistakes and reduce the impact of your input. It may also seem petty if you decide to offer feedback on a situation that occurred weeks ago.

5. Don't dwell on the negative

Do not exaggerate the issue or make it seem like the world's end. It probably isn't. Focusing only on negative aspects can demotivate and discourage employees. Remember to balance your feedback by acknowledging their strengths and accomplishments as well.

What Are the 7 Requirements of Effective Feedback?

Mastering the art of offering good feedback as a manager is critical for fostering team success. But what exactly is effective feedback? In this part, we'll examine the seven most important factors that may elevate your feedback from average to phenomenal.

  1. Be timely: Give feedback as close to the event as possible to make it more impactful and relevant.
  2. Be objective: Focus on observable behaviors and facts rather than opinions or emotions. If you aren't sure of a report, investigate.
  3. Be balanced: Share both positive and negative feedback to provide a comprehensive view of the employee's performance. However, if you don't have any positive feedback, you should give criticism as empathetically as possible.
  4. Be clear and concise: Avoid jargon or overly complex language that may confuse or overwhelm the recipient.
  5. Be solution-focused: Offer guidance on how the employee can improve and develop.
  6. Be supportive: Show empathy and understanding, and convey your belief in the employee's ability to grow and succeed.
  7. Be consistent: Regular feedback helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses and reinforces your expectations.

What Are the Five Guidelines for Giving Feedback in Teams?

If you thought feedback was uncomfortable, try giving it in a team setting. Teams have different dynamics. When providing feedback in groups, you don't want to seem like a pushover, and you don't want to seem like an overlord, either. It can be challenging to achieve this balance, but finding a way to make everyone in the team feel supported, motivated, and empowered to learn and grow together, is possible. And with these five guidelines, we'll show you how:

  1. Establish a feedback culture: Encourage open and honest communication within the team and promote a culture where feedback is seen as an opportunity for growth and development.
  2. Use the "sandwich method": Start with positive feedback, address the areas of improvement, and end with more positive feedback. This technique helps soften negative feedback's impact and maintains motivation, especially when you're giving feedback to one teammate in the presence of others.
  3. Address team dynamics: Be aware of how individual feedback may affect the team dynamics and adjust accordingly to maintain a positive and collaborative environment.
  4. Encourage peer feedback: Peer-to-peer and 360-degree feedback can be valuable for team members to gain different perspectives and learn from one another. Encourage your team to provide constructive feedback to their colleagues in a respectful and supportive manner. You can also ask if they have constructive feedback for the manager (upward feedback).
  5. Monitor and follow up on progress: Regularly check in with your team members to assess their progress and provide additional guidance or support as needed. This demonstrates your commitment to their development and helps maintain accountability.

Shape Your Feedback Process With Assembly

Providing constructive feedback can be challenging, and it's crucial to approach the process with sensitivity and professionalism. When discussing growth ideas for manager feedback or other aspects of your feedback strategy, you should consider the importance of empathy, specificity, and support.

In this article, we've shared some manager feedback examples and tips to help guide you in delivering effective feedback. Remember that good feedback involves balancing positive and negative aspects of an employee's performance. Whether you're providing employee feedback to a manager or receiving feedback as a manager from employees, always strive for open communication and collaboration.

Assembly enables you to provide and receive feedback effectively, track progress, and support your team's development on a centralized platform. By partnering with Assembly, you can ensure that your feedback process is well-structured and tailored to your team's unique needs and dynamics. Let us optimize your feedback process together. Contact us to learn more and request a demo.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

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Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

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We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

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Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

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At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

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We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

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If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

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While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

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Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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