Expressions using Themes (e.g. Collocations, IELTS, Business English)

How to Provide Feedback and Encouragement

Feedback is probably one of the most cost-effective ways of improving performance in the workplace. When delivered well, and offered constructively and in a supportive atmosphere, feedback is essential to overcoming shortages in the workplace and spurring behavioural changes. It is important to get it right, however, because delivering feedback at the wrong time or in the wrong way can have a negative effect, reducing confidence and even causing resentment. When giving feedback it is important to choose the right time. Giving feedback when someone is already overwhelmed or flustered can just cause more stress.

You can use the following phrases, for example:

Is now a good time to discuss...?

I have some thoughts about... Would you like to have a chat about it?

I'd like to take a look at... when you have a moment.

Would you like some suggestions on your...?

I have a few pointers on...

I have some advice about... that really helped me. I'd love to share it with you, if you have time.

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Offering Suggestions and Solutions

Most employees who are performing poorly are already aware of the fact. The main issue here is that they usually don't know what to do to fix it. Part of giving constructive criticism is offering solutions to the problem; not simply pointing it out. The following phrases may help with making suggestions:

Have you got any ideas on how to solve it?

How do you think we could improve on this?

What support or training do you need to address this?

What can be done to fix this?

Perhaps you should/ought to...

Have you tried...?

An alternative might be to...

Have you heard of...?

Do you think x might help?

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Employees who were surveyed said they appreciate constructive feedback as much as - if not more than - praise and recognition. Your most confident employees will probably find it easier to accept negative comments. Most people are aware of the ‘compliment sandwich’, where you offer constructive feedback before and after praise. For example:

I have noticed you are really diligent and your attention to detail is excellent. (positive)

You might want to keep an eye on the bigger picture, however. Your work is slowing down a little. (negative)

Keep up the high quality work. We are very happy with it. (positive)

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Here are some other ways of giving some positive feedback and encouragement:

I really liked...

You executed x very well

I enjoyed...

Your work on...was excellent/fantastic.

In general, you are doing really well.

You have managed some challenges with great results.

I can tell you put a lot of time/work into...


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You need to be tactful when pointing out weaknesses. Here are some good ways to bring up areas that need improvement:

I have noticed that...

x needs a little more work

You are almost there with... but I feel you might benefit from some help.

I think you might need some assistance with...

I don't think you are reaching your potential with...

I didn't understand...

I feel you can do better in...

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Most importantly, you'll want to avoid coming across as overly critical or accusatory. Keep your language neutral, if possible, and specific to the issue at hand. That way you will avoid offending anyone. These phrases should help you when you need to provide some feedback and encouragement in a respectful manner.

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