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Help your employees grow through effective feedback in performance reviews

We have all suffered through performance reviews, and most of us view them as a necessary evil. Research has found that the vast majority of performance reviews are not only ineffective, but actually cause harm to employee morale as employees live in fear of the review and then usually disagree with the assessment. Poorly led performance reviews lead to negative views of leaders and the organization which can result in employees leaving since poor relations with leaders and feeling disrespected is a primary reason people leave their jobs. However, there are ways to flip this trend and use performance views for good. When using some best practices with feedback, performance reviews can be an opportunity to forge more positive employee-manager relationships and to help the employee grow into a more skilled and engaged one.

What is effective feedback?

The purpose of feedback is to help improve performance. In the most basic terms, feedback is a way of telling someone what is good or bad about their performance. In the last few decades, we have learned that the way we give feedback can make a tremendous difference.

Why do leaders need to learn to give effective feedback?

Done poorly, feedback will have the opposite effect and will not lead to any growth or improvement and may even result in an unmotivated employee. Done well, feedback can inspire and lead to tremendous growth and engagement.

Using performance reviews as an opportunity for growth will help engage and retain employees as most employees cite lack of growth as a reason for leaving a job.

How can I give effective feedback?

Research has led to the development of several best practices.


Effective feedback happens frequently - not just annually. Ideally, you would even meet weekly so feedback will become normalized and ideas are fresh on your mind. However, monthly could work well, but quarterly may not be enough.

Input with employee

Effective feedback includes the employee's perspective on events and behaviors. Ideally, you could pose the meetings and feedback as a series of questions to elicit ideas from the employee. Additionally, this is an opportunity for leaders to learn about what is happening in the workplace from the employees' perspective and to receive feedback on their own leadership which can lead to a much more positive work culture.


Effective feedback names specific and observable behaviors. Instead of saying, "You have poor communication skills." Try to think about what you observed that is evidence of poor communication skills. For example, "You didn't email me that you had had reached out to client X, so I called her and then our organization looked unorganized to her."

Set Goals

Effective feedback provides goals and steps forward. For feedback to truly help the employee grow, there needs to be a plan for future action steps- not just listing what was good or bad in the past.


Effective feedback is positive. Not only do you want to set a positive tone with the employee to show that you want to help them be more effective, but when you focus on what they are doing well, they will actually be motivated to do more of that. Research shows that positive feedback leads to much more engaged employees. Ideally, you will highlight positive examples of employees' work for the whole team so that all team members know what to aspire to.

Action Steps

Make a plan to change your performance review process today! What one change can you make to have the biggest impact?

Want more?

Visit Lindow Learning to read about more tips on improving your team's performance or for help in growing better humans and improving the impact of your organization's mission.


“How to Conduct a Great Performance Review.” Harvard Business Review, 8 July 2022, Accessed 27 Oct. 2022.


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