5 Feedback Styles and How to Use Them

By: Megan Jones

Feedback, it can be tough to give and hard to hear if not given in a certain way. Everyone has room to grow, and feedback is a great way to do so. However, your delivery and word choice make all the difference in how someone perceives the feedback you provide. Moreover, there are a myriad of ways to deliver feedback and different employees may prefer different types. Therefore, here are 5 feedback styles and how to use them.

Why Should Employers Give Feedback?

Providing feedback to your employees provides the opportunity for the employee to know where they are exceling and areas of improvement. It can help open a line of communication and allow a level of professional transparency. Additionally, direct reports should also provide feedback to their managers about their performance. This allows all parties to learn and improve their performance. Additionally, feedback does not have to solely be negative, providing positive feedback is also a confidence booster to both employees and managers!

5 Types of Feedback

Formal vs Informal

Informal feedback can occur over email, in a one-on-one, or in front of the team letting them know positive attributes or areas of improvement. It is not based on a set criterion, but a comment made that affects job performance. Informal feedback can be as causal as, “The dates on this document are not up to date, can you please adjust” or, “Great job on catching the spelling error in my project”. It is quick and immediately lets an employee know how they are doing.

Formal feedback can be based on a set of criteria. Many of us may experience formal feedback at the end of the year to go over what you have accomplished throughout the year. There may be a scale to confirm to what degree you have completed your tasks. But it more likely to have a set amount of time to discuss a topic(s).

Constructive Feedback

There may be times that an employee or manager doesn’t meet the expectation set out. This can be a more difficult situation to navigate but it is a great opportunity to let the employee know what your expectations were and provide a potential solution so the outcome doesn’t arise again.

Example: “Next time you run the report, please order it chronologically so it is easier to organize and read the data”


Sometimes the best way to impact change and provide feedback is through motivation! Inspire your employees to keep pushing through and continue working hard. This type of feedback may be best during rush times or increased workloads. An example of motivational feedback may be, “Team, I can see how hard you all are working, and I am so grateful to have a team that I can rely on during this busy time”. This lets your employees know that you recognize their work and appreciate their continued efforts moving forward.


Feedforward focuses on the future and how to continually improve versus feedback focuses on insight for situations that have already happened. This can be either positive or negative depending on the situation. Negative feedforward can be, “Moving forward please ensure you arrive on time to our meetings”. It is letting your employee know that you have noticed something and cannot continue moving forward. Positive feedforward can be, “ I appreciate you taking the initiative of taking notes during our team meetings, can you please continue to do so and send them out to the team, so we can keep track of our meeting minutes”. These are great ways to let your employee know that you are aware of their habits and the best way to continue moving forward.


As a manager and employee, it is important to give feedback to yourself. Take the time to evaluate yourself. Reflect and truly see where you want to improve and where you excel. From there consider talking to your manager about your findings. An example for discussing improvements are, “I have noticed I seem to miss the smaller details in my projects, I want to start double checking to ensure I continue to get better at this, but do you have any tips on how I can improve this skill?”. For skills that you excel in you can ask your manager, “I really enjoy the data analytics aspect of this position, do you think there is any opportunity to be put on more projects with data analytics?”. This allows your manager to see that you have reflected on your work and how you want to proceed.

Feedback is a great way to continue to learn and grow within your position. If you think you aren’t receiving enough feedback, take initiative and talk to your manager and ask them how your performance is, and if there are any areas for improvement. Remember, feedback is a good thing, use it to get stronger in your position!  

Get in touch with us.

Prefer human contact? We do too. (925) 225-0400