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How Startups Can Provide Feedback to Employees

Posted by Neha De

July 22, 2019

Startups are uniquely poised to create their own company culture right from the outset.

As a new business, you can set the tone for your culture through your own employee morale. There are many things you can do to set the tenor of your business, and one such way is through your feedback process.

Let’s look at how startups can provide feedback to employees.

Why Feedback is Important

From the beginning days of your startup and in your employee onboarding, it’s important to let your new team members know what to expect when it comes to feedback.

First, let’s look at why feedback is vital to your overall company culture and the loyalty and retention of your employees.

This is the first step towards creating a business that flourishes.

Feedback, provided in a positive and constructive way, lets your staff know what they’re doing right. It also lets them know when they aren’t on the right path.

You’ll find that when you provide appropriate, healthy feedback, your team members work harder, are more productive, and are motivated to provide you with the best results.

How to Provide Feedback

Aside from the annual performance review, just what does feedback look like?

Because it’s often hard to provide feedback, most of your leaders and managers should be trained in how to give and receive feedback. In fact, it’s training you can even provide your whole staff.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. First, ask the person for permission. For example, your conversation might start like this, “I’d like to give you some quick feedback – do you have a few minutes?”

  2. Use your “I” words. This keeps the discussion positive. If you revert to saying things like “You did this…,” you’ll find the person becomes defensive.

  3. Be specific and say what you observed. For example, “I noticed that you came in 10 minutes late yesterday and today, can we talk about what’s going on?” Be sensitive and empathetic, but you can also be firm with the rules. Always stick to things you’ve witnessed and don’t venture into hearsay without proof.

  4. Take a minute to think through what you’ve heard and decide a course of action. Keep an open mind.

  5. Explain how their behavior impacts others. You might say something like this: “When you arrive consistently late, other employees think it’s okay, and soon everyone will be arriving late, and our customers suffer.” Again, use your “I” words.

  6. Finally, it’s time to suggest next steps. This is where you can tell your employee what they can do to turn the situation around.

Set Clear Expectations

Before you can begin leaving feedback, you want to set expectations with your team.

If you’re going to have a company culture where feedback is ongoing, say so and put it in your employee handbook.

You also want to create some guidelines for your managers to follow when leaving feedback, so everyone is on the same page.

Decide How You’ll Provide Feedback

It’s a good idea to layout how you’ll provide feedback and when. For example, you might decide to block out one day per month for feedback.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Provide one-on-one feedback. Managers might decide to do this once a week, once a month, or something different. It helps keep your team working smoothly.
  • Have your whole team sit down for a retrospective meeting once a week. Go over what went well, what didn’t, and how everyone can improve. Use this time to create a positive culture and don’t let things get ugly.
  • Set office hours. Think back to university life where professors have office hours. Your leaders can do the same thing and set aside some time to meet with staff if they’d like. This can turn into a time that any employee can stop by and talk.

To Conclude

There’s more to providing feedback to your employees than getting together once a year for a performance review.

The best feedback is done on an ongoing basis and in a positive manner.

Humans naturally want to avoid conflict, and providing feedback is often hard and uncomfortable.

But the reality is that it needs to happen to help your startup grow. Be upfront about how feedback will happen, train your team in how to provide it and how to receive it, and always follow through.

The more your team gets used to giving and receiving feedback, the better they’ll be at it, and your company will reap the benefits.

Are you a new startup ready to succeed? Are you looking to get your new business off the ground and watch it rise to success? We are here for you. We can help answer your questions and guide you through the process. Outsource your HR duties, finances, payroll and more to us. Contact Escalon today to get started.

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


Neha De
Neha De

Neha De is a writer and editor with more than 13 years of experience. She has worked on a variety of genres and platforms, including books, magazine articles, blog posts and website copy. She is passionate about producing clear and concise content that is engaging and informative. In her spare time, Neha enjoys dancing, running and spending time with her family.

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