To help you develop your feedback skills, here are some examples of how to structure statements during performance conversations or formal reviews.
Providing feedback to a direct report
One commonly used approach is the ‘stop, start or keep doing’ framework. When you focus on actions and include specific details, it provides constructive feedback that makes it easy for employees to identify how they can improve.
Recognising good performance
This tends to suit ‘keep doing’ statements. Here’s an example:
“I appreciate the way your meeting contributions often include links to our team goals or values. I want you to keep doing that because it helps us reach consensus more quickly and keep our priorities front-of-mind”.
Identifying what needs to improve
This usually suits ‘stop’ or ‘start’ statements. Stop statements should refer to a specific action that has been observed several times and include an explanation of what that action causes. This helps the person to see why they should stop doing it. Here’s an example:
“I’d like you to stop talking over others at team meetings. It discourages idea sharing and we are more productive when everyone contributes”.
If that feels too direct for your team, you can usually turn it into a start statement, like this:
“I’d like you to start listening more actively in our meetings and practice waiting until others have finished before you share your thoughts. It’s important that everyone is listened to and encouraged to contribute their ideas”.
Providing feedback to a peer
Peer feedback usually works best if it’s more like a suggestion than an instruction. A framework of ‘action and result/example /reason’ often works well. Here are a couple of examples:
“I really appreciate the way you calmly help me when I’m struggling, like you did last week when I couldn’t get the projector to work right before the client presentation. It helps me to do my best work and protects our team’s reputation”.
Suggesting areas for improvement
“I think you could improve as a team leader by quietly mentoring some of your newer appointments, rather than publicly pointing out their failings in a jokey kind of way”.
Providing feedback about yourself
Self-evaluation can be particularly challenging. Some experts suggest using the ‘action/behaviour and outcome’ framework, while still referring to specific events. Focusing on your organisation’s values or behaviours raised in previous reviews helps to keep things relevant. Here are some examples:
Identifying positive performance
“I showed initiative by realising we had a customer’s phone number wrong and using Google to find their work email. It meant we could confirm their order details without delay”.
“I demonstrated proactive collaboration by using my previous experience to help the IT project team solve a connectivity issue they were struggling with. As a result, they still met their implementation deadline”.
Recognising areas for improvement
“I know I need to get better at client presentations, so I’ve enrolled in an evening course and have asked to sit in on the presentations done by senior staff”.
“I now realise that I unintentionally talk over others at team meetings, so I’ve asked Sarah to sit next to me and give me a nudge whenever I do it”.