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Effective Feedback Mastery in Performance Reviews

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The new year is in full swing, and both managers and employees will now come together to reflect on past activities and set the course for future successes.

While they may not be popular with everyone, traditional performance reviews provide the perfect opportunity to do just that. When done well, they provide a structured platform for assessing progress, aligning goals and promoting individual and organizational development - all perfect for continued growth and success.

However, there is one crucial aspect of performance reviews that acts as a pivotal point and can really make or break the process: feedback.

Feedback is not just a checklist that lists what went well or badly for an employee. Effective feedback is the cornerstone of progress and development in every company. When done correctly, it acts as a catalyst for growth, sparking inspiration and driving individuals to new heights.

However, poor feedback can affect performance evaluations by causing confusion, demotivation, and confusion about areas that need improvement. Ultimately, poor or insufficient feedback hinders growth and potentially leads to a lack of engagement or decreased productivity.

As a manager, how can you ensure that the feedback you give during a performance review is not just a checklist item, but rather a transformative dialogue? Let's find out...


Performance reviews can be daunting at the best of times for employees, especially when it's a potentially difficult assessment. Therefore, make sure to start with a positive tone. Start by acknowledging the employee's performance over the past appraisal period and their strengths before addressing the areas that need improvement. This creates the basis for a constructive conversation and not for a critical evaluation.


Vagueness is the archenemy of effective feedback. In fact, studies have shown that inaccurate performance reviews are one of the top reasons employees want to leave their jobs! To avoid this problem, you should specifically identify both an employee's successes and areas that need improvement. Additionally, objective metrics or tangible examples can help clarify expectations.


If the review contains a mix of positive and negative feedback, consider combining constructive criticism with positive feedback - a technique called a "feedback sandwich."

This method highlights areas for improvement between praises, making feedback easier to digest and promoting a balanced perspective. It also makes it easier for employees to receive negative feedback and helps make the conversation more pleasant for both parties. However, the technology is not without drawbacks.

Critics of the “sandwich technique” often argue that it diminishes genuine praise. This is because employees tend to get used to this method, especially when used frequently. As a result, the positive feedback loses its sincerity and becomes a mere prelude to negative comments.

Furthermore, by hiding criticism in positive reviews, the sandwich method often obscures key points for improvement. This can result in the employee either not understanding the actual criticism or not grasping its significance, preventing them from making the necessary adjustments.

Remember that effective feedback is not a one-size-fits-all model. Each person you speak to is unique, so you should adapt your approach accordingly.


A good performance appraisal should include feedback from both the manager and the employee. By giving the employee the opportunity to share their perspective, you can uncover underlying issues that are impacting their performance and bring things to light that you may not be aware of.

If it's a particularly difficult conversation, the employee's perspective could provide a real explanation for their under performance, e.g. a lack of specific training or ongoing personal challenges. Therefore, encourage your employees to share their views, concerns and ideas. Active listening promotes trust and openness, enriches the exchange and makes the assessment process more constructive.


When giving feedback, it is important that you highlight actions and behaviors rather than basing your comments on a person's character traits. In this way, the focus is on specific actions and behaviors that can be changed or improved.

This approach helps create a constructive environment where the focus is on actions over which the individual has control, rather than relating feedback to inherent qualities or character traits. This enables a clearer path to positive development and growth.


With a poor performance review, bad managers simply identify problems and expect the employee to come up with all the answers. A good leader who conducts an engaging appraisal, on the other hand, suggests solutions, sets achievable goals with the employee, and provides the resources or support necessary to achieve those goals.

Effective feedback that includes solutions and support will empower and motivate your employees. Above all, it shows that you are committed to the success of your employees.


Accurate documentation of the performance review discussions serves as a reliable reference for both parties. Recording conversations and goal setting as part of performance reviews has a variety of positive effects. This includes promoting clarity, accountability and fairness by providing a factual basis for future reviews... not to mention increasing trust and transparency within your organization's performance review processes.

Using an HR system with integrated performance management software is the perfect tool to achieve all of this. It provides a central online hub to house discussions about goals, aspirations and planned development activities and make them accessible to the people who need to see them.

Using performance management software in this way consolidates information much more accurately than paper-based systems. It also makes it easy for everyone to be clear about what has been said and agreed upon and to regularly review progress to ensure everyone is on the right track.


Last but not least, effective feedback doesn’t end in the meeting room. Be sure to schedule follow-up sessions to track progress and provide ongoing advice to your employees. Regular follow-up reviews strengthen accountability and show that you are seriously investing in your employees' development - an essential part of a successful company culture.

Mastering the art of providing effective feedback in performance reviews is essential for fostering growth, engagement, and success within organizations. By leveraging IceHrm, managers can create a positive atmosphere, offer specific and objective feedback, encourage dialogue, and provide ongoing support, driving individual and organizational development.

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