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Performance feedback is simply that: feedback on the way that someone is performing at work. This doesn’t have to be given during a formal discussion, like an end-of-year performance review; it can be a simple comment on a piece of work or can be a more detailed conversation about how your staff members are doing and what they could do even better.

Giving good quality feedback means that your staff will have an accurate idea of how they are doing at work. At the end of the day, we all need to hear what we’re doing well and what improvements we can make.

According to the Art of Giving Feedback, feedback can be very impactful and can:

  • Support an employee’s development
  • Help set clear expectations
  • Create a culture of open communication

According to Cabrillo College, there are a few indicators that someone needs feedback, including:

  • Someone asks for your opinion about how they are doing
  • Unresolved problems persist
  • Errors occur again and again
  • An employee's performance doesn't meet expectations

Types of Feedback

There are two types of performance feedback: positive and constructive.
Positive feedback_ involves telling someone about their good performance. This type of feedback is encouraging, can help to motivate employees, and reinforces good work-related behaviors. According to expert Christine Porath, one of the best ways to help an employee thrive is to give them feedback, and highlighting an employee’s strengths can help them have a sense of accomplishment.

This article, from Christine Porath, outlines the ways that you can give your team more effective positive feedback:

Constructive feedback provides staff with an indication that their performance could improve. However, constructive feedback is not criticism; it is descriptive and is always directed at the action, not at the person. The main purpose of this type of feedback is to help people understand where they stand in terms of their expected job behavior and productivity standards.

Feedback Structure

Feedback, whether it’s positive or constructive, can also be structured or unstructured.

  • Unstructured feedback is given in the moment, at an unscheduled time. Most experts agree that positive feedback is often best delivered in an unstructured format -- when you catch the employee doing something great, tell them specifically what it was right away.
  • Structured feedback is the kind that’s scheduled, like an annual performance review.


How have you received feedback in the past? Was it positive or constructive, structured or unstructured? Was this feedback effective at modifying your behavior?