4 min read

How To Give Feedback to Employees, Peers, and Bosses (+Template)

How To Give Feedback to Employees, Peers, and Bosses (+Template)

Whether you’re praising a peer for a job well done or guiding an employee on a project that’s faltering, feedback is how those around you learn and grow. However, for feedback to be seen as valuable, you need to master how to give feedback in a way that the receiver is receptive to what you have to say.

In this article, we will dive into universal best practices for giving feedback, as well as specific best practices when delivering feedback to an employee, peer, or boss. You’ll also get access to a template to help you plan your feedback conversations at work.

Jump to:


Have feedback for someone? Plan it out first using the Giving Effective  Feedback Template. >>


10 Best Practices for Giving Feedback at Work to Anyone

Independent of who you’re giving feedback to at work, there are universal best practices you should follow. Whether they’re your boss, employee, or peer, following these ten best practices will ensure your feedback is positively received.

  1. Be Timely: Feedback is best delivered at the moment when you’ve witnessed a behavior or performance to ensure it is relevant.
  2. Cool Down: While you want to deliver your feedback promptly, it is best to wait until you’ve cooled down to do so if you are in a heated situation.
  3. Use “I” Statements: Feedback should always be from your perspective; thus, frame your communication using “I” statements to avoid being perceived as accusatory.
  4. Consider the Setting: Not all settings are for delivering feedback. Find a time and place that ensures privacy and minimizes distractions.
  5. Be Specific: Feedback must be based on what you personally witnessed, not hearsay. When giving feedback, be specific with detailed examples of the behaviors or actions you’re addressing.
  6. Be Mindful of Emotions: Hearing feedback, especially negative ones, can bring a range of emotions to the receiver. Recognize the emotional impact of feedback and ensure your message is delivered in a supportive environment where the receiver can process and respond.
  7. Promote a Dialogue: Feedback is a two-way conversation. Encourage the receiver of your feedback to share their perspective.
  8. Connect to Goals and Vision: Linking your feedback to the company or team's vision and goals gives you a basis to explain how the behaviors or actions you’re addressing either are helping or hindering the pursuit of them.
  9. Avoid Hyperbole: Don’t exaggerate or amplify situations or consequences to convey your point when delivering feedback. Be accurate and factual in all statements made.
  10. Offer Solutions: Acknowledging something went poorly without solutions on how to fix it isn’t helpful. Provide input or guidance on how to improve or avoid a similar situation in the future.

10 Best Practices for Giving Feedback at Work (1)


How To Give Feedback to Employees, Peers, and Boss

The dynamic can vary greatly depending on who you’re giving feedback to at work. To ensure your message is well received and leads to a positive outcome, here are some essential best practices in how feedback should be approached and shaped, whether for an employee, peers, or your boss.


How To Give Feeback to Employees

In a survey conducted by Workleap, they uncovered that 83% of employees want and appreciate feedback, whether it is positive or negative. Employees crave feedback from their leaders. It provides them with the necessary information, recognition, and support to grow in their roles. When giving feedback to employees, be sure to follow these best practices.

  1. Balance Your Feedback: Hearing only positive feedback isn’t helpful for development; likewise, only receiving negative feedback is defeating. When giving feedback to employees, strive for a balanced approach between praise and constructive feedback. Doing so will ensure your employee is open to suggestions for improvement and areas of growth.
  2. Focus on Professional Development: Giving feedback to employees is an opportunity for coaching and professional development. Approach giving feedback by communicating your commitment to helping them learn and grow to excel in their career. Offer guidance and collaborate on a plan to help them enhance their skills and contribute more effectively.
  3. Support Self-Awareness and Reflection: Encourage employees to reflect on their performance to help promote self-awareness and develop solutions for improvement. In your feedback conversation, take them through an exercise such as the Gibbs Reflective Cycle or The 5 Whys Root Cause Analysis to assist in their self-awareness and reflection.


How To Give Feeback to Peers

Like employees, your peers want feedback from you, too. Giving and receiving feedback from peers is an integral part of the workplace. A study uncovered that peer feedback increased motivation and performance at work by as much as 14%. When giving feedback to your peers, here are three ways to approach it.

  1. Take a Collaborative Attitude: Giving and receiving peer feedback should always be collaborative. Since you’re equals, the emphasis should be on working together to achieve a common organizational goal. Aligning your input to the impact of goal achievement breaks down barriers they may have to receive it.
  2. Recognize Strengths: Start the feedback conversation with a peer on a positive note by acknowledging their strengths and positive contributions to the organization. Doing so allows them to let their guard down, be open to what you have to say, and reinforce a sense of teamwork.
  3. Approach with Mutual Respect: Most workplace conflicts and communication breakdowns between peers can often be tied back to one person feeling disrespected. To avoid this, you must maintain a tone of mutual respect when giving feedback. You can do this by starting the conversation by acknowledging their strengths and focusing the feedback on specific behaviors or outcomes, not personal characteristics.


How To Give Feedback To Your Boss

While you may feel nervous when giving feedback to your boss, when done well, they will be thankful for your insights, as Linda Teo, Country Manager for ManpowerGroup Singapore, explains to The Strait Times. She said, “Staff feedback can also help management leaders develop better business strategies and initiatives as they provide different perspectives.” To help you overcome your fears of influencing up and ensure your feedback lands as intended, follow these three best practices for giving feedback to your boss.

  1. Lead with Respect and Professionalism: When giving feedback to a boss or senior leader, your approach must be respectful with a professional tone. Being overly critical or aggressive will not go over well. Instead, choose your words carefully and take the approach of helping expose a perspective they may have yet to be aware of or considered.
  2. Come with Suggestions: Most of a boss's day at work is spent solving problems and finding solutions. So, if you come to your boss with yet another issue with no thoughtful alternatives, your feedback will fall flat. Be solution-oriented when giving feedback by being prepared with different fixes before initiating your conversation.
  3. Seek their Perspective: Your boss has experience and insights you haven’t been exposed to. When giving feedback to them, approach it as a conversation, asking for their viewpoint. Doing so instantly reframes your feedback from being critical to one where you want to learn, collaborate, and provide them with insights from your position.


Download Your Copy of the Giving Effective Feedback Template

What Is Feedback Training? Who It’s For and Why It’s Important

5 min read

What Is Feedback Training? Who It’s For and Why It’s Important

Giving and receiving feedback does not always come easily or naturally. In fact, you might be surprised just how many people need feedback training...

Read More
Why Is The Feedback Sandwich Bad? And How To Give Better Feedback

4 min read

Why Is The Feedback Sandwich Bad? And How To Give Better Feedback

Many leaders shy away from delivering negative feedback or, when they do, try to soften the blow. It's human nature to do so, as, like anyone,...

Read More
How to Use the SEEN Feedback Model (+Template)

4 min read

How to Use the SEEN Feedback Model (+Template)

How am I doing at work? Where can I improve? Employees desperately want to know where they stand with their direct supervisor, but unfortunately for...

Read More