Giving constructive feedback is easier said than done. It is one thing to understand the theory, but finding the right words can be tricky.
In this article, we will give you some actual constructive feedback examples that you can use to improve your feedback process.
Share them with your employees and start reaping the benefits of a constructive feedback culture.
🔄 What is constructive feedback?
Meaningful feedback is essential to employee development and a positive work environment.
However, there is a fine line between constructive feedback and criticism, which you need to understand when managing people.
Employee feedback is necessary to enhance a worker's performance by identifying areas needing improvement. Unlike criticism, which merely points out weak spots, constructive feedback identifies problem areas and offers solutions.
A healthy feedback culture in your company ensures open, beneficial communication regarding employee and company performance. Everyone needs to work together toward a common goal when striving for success, and constructive feedback can help you get there!
➡️ To learn more about the philosophy behind these examples, check out our article on how to effectively use constructive feedback.
We cover the benefits, collective goals, and best practices for giving constructive feedback in a positive workplace—a must-have skill for HR pros.
📝 30 Constructive feedback examples
Below are 30 examples of constructive feedback that you can use for inspiration when you need to motivate your coworkers to do their best.
🎯 Constructive feedback about missing goals
If any employee is missing goals, you must consider the cause from every angle. Ask yourself:
- Why are they missing goals?
- Are expectations clear and fair?
- What might be preventing them from reaching their goals?
- How can we help them succeed?
Generally, a feedback recipient wants to perform well, and missing goals is something they hope to avoid. So be sure to approach this conversation and offer assistance rather than criticize their ability or performance.
Here are some employee feedback examples you can use when it comes to missing goals:
- It looks like you fell a little short of achieving this goal. Are there any obstacles preventing you from succeeding? What would you need to overcome them?
- You didn't quite meet expectations this period. Are there any aspects of the plan that you don't fully understand? We have confidence in your ability, so long as the path is clear.
- You did not meet all of your targets this quarter. Do you think the sales goals we set were realistic? If not, what changes can we make to ensure you succeed next quarter?
📉 Constructive feedback about decreased productivity
Decreased productivity can often result from dissatisfaction with a job or burnout. In either case, it is essential to use tact to avoid exacerbating a situation where friction already exists.
Be sure to do your homework before giving this type of feedback. You can do so by:
- Examining employee performance data and reviews.
- Looking for changes that coincide with reduced productivity.
- Talk to coworkers and supervisors about any reasons they are aware of.
Suppose you can identify some likely causes for decreased productivity. In that case, you can better prepare yourself if they come up during the discussion.
For example, suppose an employee's productivity decreased after a coworker quit. In that case, you can try to figure out how that has impacted the subject.
Below are a few examples you can use to broach the subject of decreased positivity while remaining constructive:
- Last year you went the extra mile! Your scores were some of the best I've ever seen. So far this year, your numbers aren't quite keeping up. Has something changed that is causing this?
- Since X occurred, it appears your scores have taken a dip. Unfortunately, we can't go back in time, but is there anything we can do to get back on track?
- We noticed your output has been a tad lower these last few weeks. Do you need a break or change of pace to help you recharge?
Tip: Offering assistance or showing a legitimate concern for the employee's success will convey that you are there to help, not crack the whip.
🦹 Constructive feedback for attitude and rudeness
When dealing with a bad attitude, you need to be extra cautious.
If an employee has a history of a bad attitude, feedback of any sort may trigger an unprofessional response.
While this can be uncomfortable, it may also be beneficial in the long run as you can address the problem firsthand. Though, ideally, you can prevent any situations now or in the future.
Tip #1: The key here is to target the behavior, not the person. Try not to get personal with opinions or judgment. Instead, point out the issue and why it is a problem.
These are some ways you can deliver behavioral feedback constructively:
- Last week you commented that the sales team made some mistakes you had to fix. While we appreciate your help, your language was a little unprofessional. Do you recall what you said?
- Some of your team members expressed a reluctance to work with you due to your attitude and some negative comments you have made. We all have bad days, but you must maintain a positive or at least neutral attitude at work. Can you remember an example of when this might have happened?
- It has come to our attention that you and Jeff have had some personal conflicts lately. We understand that personalities don't always mix well, but we must be able to work together as a team. Is there anything we can do to resolve this issue?
In some cases, merely letting an employee know that their behavior has caused enough of an issue for management to take notice can motivate them to take steps to correct it.
Tip #2: When possible, approach the situation gently, hoping they will be willing to improve.
Tip #3: If this is a recurring problem or severe enough to need an immediate resolution, you may need to use more explicit language and set stern expectations or ultimatums.
⏰ Constructive feedback for work ethic: tardiness and absenteeism
Tardiness and absenteeism are common issues that every HR specialist might have to deal with occasionally.
Fortunately, attendance is usually well-documented, and policies are often in place. If not, you may want to consider making one.
Tip: Having attendance policies in place removes any favoritism from the situation. Plus, it will prevent some employees from feeling targeted unfairly.
When giving constructive feedback about work ethic, consider these approaches:
- You've had quite a few unexcused absences so far this year. Is there a reason you've been having trouble getting to work? Historically your attendance has been excellent.
- We noticed you clocked in late twice last week and again the week before. Is there a reason you're having trouble making it in on time? Are you happy with your current schedule and job roles?
- It looks like you missed the start of a meeting on Friday due to taking an extended lunch. You also left early the previous Friday. While we care about everyone finding a comfortable work-life balance, we have certain expectations about time management.
If possible, offer to work with the subject on their schedule. Try to find ways to improve the situation without forgetting about their work-life balance.
Show that you are trying to help them and might clear up any attendance issues.
🔍 Constructive feedback about attention to detail
A lack of attention to detail can be harmful in the workplace. Small mistakes in critical processes can cause a slew of problems.
Spending an extra minute double-checking your work can save hours cleaning up a mistake.
However, we are all human, and mistakes do happen. The problem is when an individual makes more than their fair share of these small mistakes.
To address concerns with attention to detail, try framing your constructive feedback like this:
- Overall, the quality of your work is excellent. There are just a few minor errors that keep it from being perfect. Is there a step we can add to your process so you can catch them?
- I know there is a lot on your plate, but there have been several repeated mistakes creating more work for you and others on your team. Do you know what they are?
- Your speed metric is very good, but there have been a few inaccuracies lately. Is there anything we can do to ensure this doesn't happen? At this stage, it would be best to focus on accuracy, even if that means slowing your pace.
Providing constructive feedback on a worker's attention to detail is tricky, as it can have many root causes.
For some, it is simply not one of their strengths. Other times, it can be a lack of motivation or engagement or even a symptom of burnout.
Discovering the cause of the lack of attention to detail is vital to solving the problem (even if that means the position simply isn't a good fit).
💼 Constructive feedback about leadership
Constructive feedback isn't always targeted at new employees or those low on the totem pole.
Sometimes you will need to give feedback to employees in a high-up position who may have years of experience under their belt.
This has a higher chance of going sideways because that person may see themselves as your peer or even superior. After all, they must have some success and leadership skills if they made it to where they are.
Tip:With constructive criticism, you want to avoid questioning someone's ability. Especially when the recipients are likely to have pride attached to a position they feel is earned and prestigious.
Giving feedback in these situations may trigger a more defensive or haughty response.
Try to remain neutral when administering constructive feedback examples for your manager and those in positions of leadership, like in these examples:
- When Jennifer resigned from her position last month, one reason she offered was difficulty with management. Were you aware of any problems she was having? Did she ever bring it up to you? We didn't notice any noticeable performance issues.
- The other day you reprimanded Adam quite harshly in front of other coworkers in the breakroom. While we understand your reason for talking with him, it may be better to do that privately next time. Do you understand why?
- Your department's performance last quarter was significantly lower than our predictions. I know many factors could have caused that, but ultimately the burden falls on you as the department head. Your track record is otherwise solid, so I was hoping you could help me understand what happened and how we can turn it around.
In leadership roles, the levels of responsibility and stress tend to be higher. This context makes constructive criticism even more important as performance, morale, and open communication rely on positive and effective feedback.
High-performers are another tricky group to give constructive feedback to. Since their performance is usually high, feedback often isn't needed or warranted. At the same time, opportunities to further develop these individuals can make them even more effective.
➡️ We gathered 36 constructive feedback for high performers examples to help you further develop your best employees without backfiring and hurting their morale.
🧩 Feedback for poor problem-solving or lack of initiative
The goal of good management is not to have to manage your people. If everyone knows what they need to do and how to do it, your company can run like a well-oiled machine.
Inevitably, new problems will arise. While some folks can overcome those challenges, others won't.
Sometimes this is a lack of ability to solve the problem. Other times it can flag putting insufficient effort into the tasks.
Often, the oil of a well-oiled work machine is the employees' ability to work autonomously without micromanaging from their leaders.
For employees who don't seem to be bringing enough oil to work, try these constructive criticism examples:
- You are really good at following protocols and procedures, but in scenarios where there isn't one, we would like to see you try to handle them on your own.
- We appreciate your ability to communicate well, but your team leader believes you slow down the process by asking for confirmation too often. Go with your gut! We trust you.
- In situations where there isn't an obvious next step, we have noticed you like to adopt a "wait and see" mindset. Is there a reason you don't feel like taking the initiative? We are confident in your ability and think you should be too!
Often, a reluctance to take the initiative or try a solution that seems outside the box stems from fear of making a mistake.
However, employees who are constantly unwilling to take that leap won't grow or learn from those potential mistakes.
Know when to encourage them!
🙅♂️ Constructive feedback about ineffective communication
Communication, like feedback, is vital for teams to work effectively and efficiently.
Unfortunately, there will be times when employees are unable or unwilling to communicate with their coworkers, which can lead to wasted time and unnecessary mistakes.
Some common reasons for poor communication skills are:
- Being soft-spoken;
- Fear of making mistakes;
- Lack of support;
- Not wanting to step on anyone's toes;
- No communication opportunities;
- Superiority complexes;
- Poor interpersonal relationships;
- Bad communication skills (written or spoken).
As always, identifying the cause of the problem is the first step to solving it.
To root out these issues, try these examples to promote effective communication:
- You sent an email yesterday that wasn't very clear to others on your team. Would you mind rereading it and clarifying what you meant? The last thing we want is for a misunderstanding to make your job harder!
- I notice you rarely speak up in meetings, even when I know you have the knowledge to contribute. Can I ask why? I know it can be nerve-wracking to speak up in front of others.
- We noticed you withheld some information at the last sales meeting that Dan had requested. Was this intentional? It is vital that we all work together for the best of the company, regardless of personal feelings or what you think is fair. I promise it won't negatively impact you to help others out.
More often than not, communication breakdowns have an easy fix.
For example, maybe a new employee hasn't met enough friendly faces to feel comfortable putting themselves out there.
Or perhaps someone has valuable information but no good lines of communication to pass it along.
Usually, employees simply need a nudge to get them talking.
Few are actively avoiding conversations at work. You can use the following examples of constructive feedback on communication skills.
👎 Constructive feedback about poor teamwork skills
Teamwork is an essential part of a successful company. With different individuals bringing different expertise to the table, working together is the only way for everyone to add value.
Sometimes the teamwork dynamic doesn't run as smoothly as we would like. This can result from several reasons, such as personality conflicts, poor communications, or ineffective management, which can all affect team morale.
To help employees be more of a team player, try these constructive feedback examples:
- I sense some tension in your entire team currently. Can you tell me what is going on? Usually, you all work well together, and the results are impressive!
- You have a lot of talented people on your team, but for some reason, we still aren't getting the results we want. Is everyone contributing and adding value to each project? I would like to see all of your expertise shining through!
- We have noticed some disconnects between Team A and Team B, which has caused work to be done twice in some cases. Let us schedule some team meetings to get everyone on the same page and iron out these miscommunications. We don't want anyone wasting their valuable time on something that a simple chat could solve.
Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say. In other words, good teamwork makes everyone's job easier and leads to success.
Teamwork breakdowns often result from communication failures, though personality conflicts can also lead to tension among team members. Scheduling a sit-down or team-building exercise is often a worthwhile use of your and your team's time!
🧑🏻💻 Constructive feedback in a remote work environment
While the tenets behind constructive feedback remain the same for a remote team, there are some considerations you should be aware of. For example, it can be harder to portray emotion and empathy through email than through oral delivery.
You can do some things to mitigate these challenges, like giving feedback through a video call instead of an email or text chat. Still, your approach may also need to change.
Tip: Convey positivity and constructiveness clearly through whatever medium you use. It may mean using superlative words in an email or emojis in a web chat.
Here are some examples of written constructive feedback for remote workers:
- I really liked how you handled the introduction to the current project! The part about future projects was also solid. I did think the call-to-action could have been clearer, though. Here are some suggestions for next time!
- Hey there! I noticed you missed your deadline for your outline yesterday. Are you having any trouble with it? Let me know if I can help or if you want to push out the deadline :)
- Good morning! Here are the results of your performance review. Overall, you have improved in a lot of areas and seem to be catching on. There are a few areas of concern, though, that you will notice in red. Can we schedule a video call soon to come up with an improvement plan? Thanks!
As you can see, these examples include more exclamation marks, pleasantries, and even a smiley face that you don't necessarily see in the other examples.
Tip: An added effort to imbue text communications with an appreciative tone can help make up for the lack of smiles and facial expressions you can offer in person.
Being kind and supportive in virtual communications can help remote workers feel welcome and valued as part of your team, even if you don't see them daily.
As an HR professional, you still want to build relationships and loyalty with long-distance coworkers.
➡️ Create a constructive feedback culture at your workplace with Zavvy
"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again" - Richard Branson.
Do not think of giving and receiving feedback as pointing out failures. Instead, think of it as paving the way for growth and success.
Feedback as a part of your company culture is truly best for everyone. Individuals are encouraged to strengthen and develop their skills while the company benefits from better employee performance.
Zavvy helps promote a positive feedback culture with our 360 Feedback Software that enables you to give honest feedback that is fully customizable for your workforce.
Empower your team with transparent upward, downward, peer, and self-feedback modalities to drive professional growth and team development.
Get in touch and see for yourself in a free 30 minutes demo.