16 Types of Feedback You Need to Know

an employee receiving feedback through laptop
Giving various types of feedback in the workplace helps to encourage your employees' improvement. Read more to find out the details.

Did you know that there are many types of feedback? Feedback comes in different forms. It’s more than just positive and negative. Generally, people give feedback with good intention — to help the receiver improve.

Besides, you get to maintain harmony with your colleagues when you know which types of feedback in the workplace to use. 

Two basic types of feedback

This is the most obvious type of feedback in the workplace. Formal feedback is usually appropriately planned, such as employee performance reviews.

Since this kind of feedback is expected, managers and downline reports can discuss issues openly. Before giving formal feedback, it’s best for managers to state the objectives so recipients can prepare.

Think of an annual performance review. The aim is to discuss the employee’s performance for the last 12 months and plan for the following year.

This can happen anytime, in a very spontaneous way or unplanned. That being said, informal feedback has its own advantage.

For example, say a simple “good job!” to your colleagues after finishing the presentation. Or inform them to add X, Y, Z in the report for the next meeting.

Four types of feedback based on source

This is one of the types of feedback that’s given without realising it. Commonly, it happens between colleagues at the same level. It’d be helpful to provide positive peer-to-peer feedback. But, remember to be honest and avoid doing it brutally.

also known as upward feedback, employee feedback is given by subordinates to their superiors. Although HR conducts an annual survey to gather employee feedback, employees can still conduct them once issues arise.

Supervisors are encouraged to give feedback to subordinates at any time. It's best to avoid withholding it until performance reviews.

Gathering feedback from people outside the company is essential. Internal people are prone to blind spots. Thus, this kind of feedback is needed to improve the product or service.

Six types of feedback based on tone

People give positive feedback based on past actions that resulted in good impacts. Positive feedback makes people feel appreciated, happy and motivated.

So, the next time you see someone's doing a good job, congratulate them!

This type of feedback will affect someone's future behaviour. When giving positive feedforward feedback, focus on the future.

The objective of this feedback is to help the recipient achieve the desired goals.

Remarks that people don't want to hear but can be effective when delivered correctly. Before giving negative feedback, ask the recipient if they're open to receiving it.

Make sure to be mindful with your choice of words so they don't feel attacked, hurt, or demotivated.

One should avoid giving this type of feedback in the workplace. By providing negative feedforward, you're keeping them from developing bad habits.

This is one of the types of feedback people love to hear. Besides positive feedback, some people prefer to also listen to what they can improve.

Constructive feedback consists of positive and negative comments, focusing on the performance rather than the recipient's personality.

The type of feedback you should avoid. Destructive feedback isn't helpful at all as it focuses on personality rather than the work.

It points only to errors and provides no solutions, which is demotivating and hurtful.

Here are the feedback blunders you should avoid

an employer giving feedbacks to an employee while standing

Now that you know about feedback types, it’s time to recognise some common mistakes people make when giving them.

Being too vague

Be specific with your feedback, so the recipient understands your objective. If you like their sales pitch, praise them and let them know what makes it awesome. If you need to correct bad behaviour, include the details.

For example, they come to the office on time then have their breakfast before doing their job. Explain to them that the working hour starts at 10 am, and if they wish to have breakfast in the office, they should come earlier.

Sandwiching the negative feedback

You may think sandwiching negative feedback will cushion the recipient. But, people are smart enough to see through your intentions.

If you’re going to give negative feedback, be straightforward, ask why it happened, and show empathy. Should you opt for the sandwich method, ensure that your positive comments are sincere and not too flattery.

Infusing sarcasm

No matter how uncomfortable you are in giving feedback, avoid using sarcasm. Be clear and straightforward. If you feel uncomfortable, you should first figure out how to deliver the feedback.

Criticising in public

Remember this rule: “praise in public, criticise in private“. It would help if you never criticised people in public like in a team meeting. It will cause embarrassment and stress to the recipient. Furthermore, it’s better to ask their permission so they can prepare emotionally before giving any negative feedback.

Withholding feedback and giving them in one shot

an employer giving feedback during performance review

Also, please don’t compile negative feedback then only shove it to them during annual performance reviews. That’s unfair and unprofessional, as you’re supposed to guide them throughout the year to improve.

Those are the types of feedback you need to know. As an additional reference, I’ve added some common mistakes people make when giving feedback.

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, I suggest you conduct bi-annual or/and annual performance reviews, peer reviews (between employees) and collect feedback from your employees and customers. 

Giving and collecting feedback is essential for the growth of your employees and company. So, don’t hesitate to do it!

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