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25 Examples of Effective Performance Feedback + Best Practices

By Michelle Gouldsberry
July 6, 2024
10 minute read

Timely, effective feedback doesn’t just benefit individual employees. When implemented across the organization and reinforced in your company culture, feedback on employee performance can truly transform your business. 

Measuring performance and providing feedback does improve employee performance, research shows time and time again. According to one study, regular feedback, along with clearly communicated performance goals and expectations, significantly improves individual performance. Our own research backs that claim. Of the employees we surveyed for the 2024 State of Performance Enablement report, those who received feedback were three times more likely to feel they can perform their work well.

When delivered effectively, employee performance feedback provides a clear path for team members to improve their performance, achieve their goals, and grow their careers. Discover what makes feedback effective, and check out these employee performance review feedback examples and best practices to inspire a culture of feedback in your organization.

5 key components of effective performance feedback

Fostering a culture of continuous improvement and employee growth is crucial for organizational success. Performance feedback plays a key role in this effort, empowering individuals and teams to reach their full potential. Let’s explore five key components of effective performance feedback that can transform ordinary evaluations into powerful catalysts for growth and success.

Clear and specific

Clarity is key to effective performance feedback. You want employees to know exactly what’s expected of them, and how they measure up against those expectations. “Providing somebody with vague feedback does them no good,” says Caitlin Collins, organizational psychologist and program strategy director at Betterworks. “You want to give them very specific context for what you’re telling them.”

Adding concrete examples to feedback helps make it clear and tangible. By using real-life instances, employees will better understand their strengths and areas for improvement. This approach allows them to develop targeted growth strategies.

It’s also crucial to be clear about what employees need to do differently or how to improve. Set clear goals and expectations, outline the desired outcomes, and provide guidance on the steps to achieve them. By following these principles, managers can deliver performance feedback that is clear, understandable, and effective in driving both employee growth and organizational success.

Timely and regular

Timely feedback plays a crucial role in effective performance management. When managers deliver feedback promptly after observing behavior or performance, the message stays immediate and relevant. “Feedback is truly only valuable when it happens in the moment and in real time,” Caitlin says. “The true value of feedback happens when you can catch people when they can learn and have the right context.” 

Continuous feedback allows employees to make adjustments right away, reinforcing good behaviors and addressing areas for improvement while the memory is fresh. Scheduling recurring performance discussions ensures that employees receive ongoing guidance, recognition, and opportunities for growth. This practice fosters a culture of open communication and trust, nurturing a growth mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement.


Balanced feedback is crucial for effective performance management. Managers need to strike the right mix between positive reinforcement and constructive criticism to foster comprehensive employee development. 

Positive feedback boosts motivation, celebrates achievements, and reinforces desirable behaviors. It cultivates a culture of appreciation, nurtures morale, and fosters a sense of accomplishment among your team.

However, Caitlin says, positive feedback alone doesn’t benefit employees. Constructive feedback provides a clear path for self-improvement. It helps employees identify areas that need development and offers the guidance necessary to elevate their performance. Addressing weaknesses directly paves the way for sustained growth.

Set clear goals and expectations, outline the desired outcomes, and provide guidance on the steps to achieve them. By following these principles, managers can deliver performance feedback that is clear, understandable, and effective in driving both employee growth and organizational success.

Thoughtful and intentional

Delivering feedback with care and consideration cultivates a positive work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to excel. To create a nurturing work environment, managers need to be thoughtful about what they say and intentional about the outcome of the conversation. 

Capturing performance data in real time through a system like Betterworks enables managers to bring unbiased, objective observations to feedback sessions, Caitlin says. Once equipped with data showing trends in employee performance, managers can set clear goals for performance improvement.


Effective performance feedback always looks toward the future to improve employee performance, Caitlin says. Future-oriented feedback guides employees in identifying areas for development that will prepare them for future roles and challenges and encourages them to think about their growth within the company.

This approach also helps you identify and develop future leaders. By providing feedback that emphasizes potential and growth, you can help high-potential employees — as well as the hidden gems in your workforce — reach their full potential and prepare for leadership roles. This benefits the organization by providing a strong pipeline of future leaders and gives employees opportunities to advance their careers.

Why is giving feedback so difficult?

Managers often encounter emotional, interpersonal, or skill-based barriers when trying to give effective feedback. These obstacles can make it difficult to deliver effective feedback on performance. Understanding and overcoming the following barriers can help managers provide feedback that truly supports and enhances employee performance.

Feedback triggers emotional responses

Giving feedback can be a high-stress situation that often triggers strong emotional responses. Managers might worry about hurting their team members’ feelings or causing them to feel defensive, which can make the conversation uncomfortable for both parties. 

This emotional weight can make it hard to deliver feedback clearly and constructively. Emotions can cloud judgment, leading to either overly harsh criticism or excessive softening of the message to avoid discomfort — neither of which is productive.

Managers fear conflict

Another reason feedback is difficult is the fear of conflict. The anticipation of a negative reaction can be paralyzing, causing managers to miss opportunities for meaningful dialogue and improvement. Managers may hesitate to give feedback because they don’t want to create tension or damage their relationship with the recipient. This fear can lead to avoiding feedback altogether or neutralizing it to the point where it loses its impact. 

Managers struggle to be both candid and kind

Maintaining a balance between being honest and being kind is a significant challenge. Managers want to help their employees improve, but also want them to feel valued and respected. This dual goal can make it hard to find the right words. 

Providing feedback effectively requires a blend of consideration and empathy. The goal is to deliver feedback that’s both positive and constructive, helping individuals grow and improve.

Power dynamics and biases complicate feedback

Past interactions and personal feelings can color a manager’s delivery of feedback and an employee’s perception of it, undermining its effectiveness and fairness. If a manager has a strained relationship with the person they’re giving feedback to, it can be even more difficult. Employees might perceive feedback as an attack, and managers may struggle to be objective.

Managers aren’t trained to give feedback

Effective feedback requires skill. Managers need to be clear, specific, and able to keep the conversation focused on behaviors rather than personal traits. Many managers find it challenging to articulate their observations in a way that’s both actionable and supportive. This underscores the importance of developing strong feedback-giving skills through continuous learning and practice.

25 examples of effective performance feedback

While feedback should always be personalized, it can be helpful for managers to review examples of effective performance feedback as a way of reinforcing best practices. 

Before providing feedback, make sure that you seek understanding. 

Avoid making unfounded assumptions. Ask questions that increase your understanding of context and the other person’s perspective (e.g., Instead of asking “How did you think you performed?” ask “What preparation for this presentation was afforded  to you?”)

Timely feedback

Feedback example: “I noticed you handled the client meeting really well yesterday. Your clear communication helped the client understand our proposal better. Keep up the good work!”

Why it’s effective: This feedback is timely and provided immediately after the meeting, which reinforces positive behavior while it’s still fresh in the employee’s mind.

Constructive feedback

Feedback example: “During the team presentation, you seemed to struggle with the new software. Let’s schedule some training to help you get more comfortable with it.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback identifies a specific issue and offers a solution, making it constructive and actionable.

Positive reinforcement

Feedback example: “Great job on the project report! Your detailed analysis was impressive and very helpful for our planning.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback specifically acknowledges the employee’s strong analytical skills, reinforcing positive behavior and boosting morale.

Future-oriented feedback

Feedback example: “You did a fantastic job managing the team on this project. I see potential in you for a leadership role. Let’s discuss how we can develop your management skills further.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback not only praises current performance but also provides a clear path for long-term growth and development.

Behavior-specific feedback

Feedback example: “I noticed you interrupted a few colleagues during the meeting. I love how excited you are! Perhaps next time, try to listen fully before responding. It will help improve the flow of discussion.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback focuses on specific behavior, making it clear and actionable for the employee to improve.

Encouraging improvement

Feedback example: “Your last presentation was much better than the previous ones. Keep working on your pacing, and you’ll continue to improve.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback acknowledges improvement while providing a specific area for further development, encouraging ongoing career growth.

Recognizing strengths

Feedback example: “Your ability to stay calm under pressure is a great asset to our team. It really helps us navigate tough situations effectively.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback highlights a key strength, reinforcing the employee’s confidence and encouraging continued use of this valuable skill.

Addressing weaknesses

Feedback example: “I appreciate how much effort you put into the client proposal. Your hard work did not go unnoticed. I have some suggestions for how you can make your presentations even more impactful.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback recognizes and values the employee’s effort, boosting morale and motivation.

Providing clear examples

Feedback example: “In our last meeting, your suggestion to streamline the process was spot on. It saved us a lot of time.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback uses a specific example to illustrate the positive impact of the employee’s contribution, making it clear and meaningful.

Two-way communication

Feedback example: “How do you feel about the feedback I provided? Is there anything you’d like to discuss or clarify?”

Why it’s effective: This feedback invites dialogue, making the process collaborative and ensuring mutual understanding.

Clear goal setting

Feedback example: “To improve your project management skills, let’s set a goal to complete a project from start to finish independently within the next quarter.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback sets a clear, achievable goal, providing direction and motivation for the employee’s development.

Empathetic feedback

Feedback example: “I understand the last few weeks have been challenging. Let’s discuss how we can help you complete tasks more effectively moving forward.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback shows empathy and offers support, fostering a supportive and understanding work environment.

Encouraging learning

Feedback example: “I see you’ve been struggling with the new software. I recommend taking the upcoming training session to improve your skills.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback identifies a problem and provides a specific solution, encouraging skill development.

Recognizing contributions

Feedback example: “Your insights during the strategy meeting were invaluable, and will help us achieve our goals this quarter.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback acknowledges that the employee’s contributions exceeded expectations, reinforcing positive behavior and engagement.

Praising teamwork

Feedback example: “Your collaboration with the marketing team on the recent campaign was excellent. It showed great teamwork.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback highlights and reinforces behaviors that led to team success, promoting a collaborative work culture.

Future development

Feedback example: “You’ve done well in your current role. Let’s discuss opportunities for you to take on more responsibilities.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback acknowledges current success and provides a pathway for future growth, motivating the employee.

Feedback on feedback

Feedback example: “How did you feel about the feedback I gave you last week? Was it helpful?”

Why it’s effective: This feedback asks for the employee’s feedback on the performance review and its effectiveness, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Acknowledging improvement

Feedback example: “I’ve seen a lot of improvement in your customer interactions. Keep up the good work.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback recognizes and encourages continued improvement, boosting the employee’s confidence and motivation.

Celebrating success

Feedback example: “Congratulations on closing the deal! Your negotiation skills were top-notch.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback celebrates a specific achievement, reinforcing positive behavior and success.

Encouraging initiative

Feedback example: “I appreciate your initiative in taking on the new project. It’s great to see you stepping up.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback recognizes and encourages proactive behavior, promoting a culture of initiative.

Highlighting positive impact

Feedback example: “Your work on the sustainability project has had a significant positive impact in helping us reach our strategic business goal to reduce our waste stream. Well done!”

Why it’s effective: This feedback highlights the positive business impact of the employee’s work, reinforcing its strategic importance and value.

Providing support

Feedback example: “I see you’re struggling with the workload. Let’s prioritize your tasks together to make them more manageable.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback offers support and a practical solution, helping the employee manage their workload effectively.

Reinforcing positive behavior

Feedback example: “Your punctuality has improved significantly. Keep it up!”

Why it’s effective: This feedback acknowledges and encourages continued positive behavior, reinforcing good habits.

Addressing specific issues

Feedback example: “I’ve noticed you’ve been missing a lot of deadlines lately. Let’s discuss what’s going on and how we can address it.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback addresses a specific issue and seeks to understand the root cause, promoting constructive problem-solving.

Encouraging growth

Feedback example: “You have a lot of potential in project management. Let’s set up a mentorship program to help you develop these skills.”

Why it’s effective: This feedback identifies potential and offers a clear path for development, motivating the employee to grow.

5 best practices for performance feedback

Effective performance evaluations and feedback drive higher employee engagement, empowering team members to take their performance to the next level. By equipping managers with the right skills and techniques for delivering feedback, you can foster a culture of continuous improvement and development within the organization. 

Focus on the facts

Being objective when delivering feedback is crucial for managers because it builds trust and fosters a positive work environment. “Feedback is really valuable when it is objective and learning-oriented,” Caitlin says. When employees perceive feedback as fair and unbiased, they’re more likely to accept it and act on it, making managing employee performance more effective.

Train managers to focus on specific behaviors rather than personal traits and to describe what they observed and the impact it had on the team or project. For example, instead of saying, “You are not a good team player,” a manager can instead say, “I noticed that you didn’t collaborate with the team during the last project, which caused some delays.” Focusing on observed behaviors helps managers deliver feedback that’s clear, actionable, and based on facts.

Engage in conversation

When employees are active participants in the feedback process, they’re more likely to understand what they’re hearing and take ownership of their improvement. “Feedback in and of itself should be conversational,” Caitlin says, “where the person who’s receiving feedback has time to be heard, to be able to respond.”

Train managers to engage team members in a two-way dialogue during the performance review process. Teach managers to ask open-ended questions that encourage employees to share their perspectives and feelings. Run role-playing scenarios to help managers practice their interpersonal skills ahead of delivering performance review feedback to employees.

For example, instead of simply stating what needs improvement, a manager might ask, “How do you feel about your recent project? What challenges did you encounter?” This approach not only makes the employee feel heard but also provides valuable insights that can inform more effective feedback and solutions.

Prioritize expectations over emotions

Prioritizing expectations over emotions matters because it helps maintain professionalism and clarity in feedback discussions. When feedback is grounded in clear expectations, employees are less likely to feel personally attacked and more likely to view feedback as constructive. “A really easy way to cut through the emotional complexities is just to start at an objective level, to ask a question: Did I meet expectations?” Caitlin says.

Teach managers to base their feedback on specific performance criteria and examples, rather than personal feelings. For instance, instead of saying, “I feel disappointed with your recent work,” they should state, “The project didn’t meet the deadline, which affected our timeline.” This method ensures that feedback remains objective and aligned with organizational goals, making it easier for employees to understand and act upon.

Share ideas for improvement

Giving employees a clear path for improvement transforms feedback from a critique into a developmental tool. When employees have a roadmap to follow, they’re more likely to feel empowered and motivated to change and grow. “It’s meant to be a gift,” Caitlin says. “What are you going to walk away with? How is it going to help you improve, to do something better next time? What’s the learning? What’s the action? What’s the future?”

Encourage managers to break down the desired improvements into manageable tasks or goals. For example, instead of saying, “You need to improve your time management,” they could say, “To improve your time management, try using a task list to prioritize your daily activities and set aside specific times for focused work.” This approach gives employees a concrete plan to follow, making feedback more constructive and achievable.

Align feedback with employee goals

Aligning feedback with employees’ goals creates a sense of purpose and direction for the employee, which fosters a supportive environment where employees feel valued and understood — ultimately leading to higher performance. “To really use that as a development plan for growth, and align that with my goals, can only help improve performance,” Caitlin says. “And when people are empowered to use feedback, to use coaching, to use goals to drive their own performance, that’s where organizations can really be competitive.”

Emphasize the importance of connecting feedback to specific actions that will help employees achieve their goals. For example, if an employee aims to improve their leadership skills, a manager could say, “To help you develop your leadership abilities, I recommend leading the next team meeting. This will give you the opportunity to practice delegation and team coordination.” By framing feedback in the context of the employee’s aspirations, managers make the feedback more meaningful and encourage a stronger commitment to improvement.

Elevating performance feedback practices 

Effective performance feedback drives business success and employee engagement by providing clear, actionable insights that empower individuals and teams to reach their full potential. Regular feedback on employee performance, combined with clearly communicated performance goals, significantly improves individual performance and drives business outcomes. 

Implementing best practices for performance feedback fosters a culture of continuous improvement and open communication. This culture not only enhances employee growth but also aligns individual goals with organizational objectives, creating a more motivated and cohesive workforce. By equipping managers with the skills to deliver effective feedback, you can empower feedback sessions as valuable opportunities for development, ultimately driving business success and fostering a positive, growth-oriented work environment.

Discover how Betterworks can help you build a better feedback system to boost employee performance and engagement.

What is good feedback?