The Key to Retaining Employees is Giving Great Feedback

BY Kathy Crosett
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Even the most seasoned managers dread giving feedback, especially if it’s not going to be positive. Managers are supposed to provide feedback in order to motivate and develop their team members. But over 30% of sales reps say their managers’ biggest weaknesses include motivating and coaching or developing others. If you have trouble giving feedback, remember that team members want to hear what you have to say, and that feedback is a good tool for increasing engagement and retaining employees.

Timely Feedback and Retaining Employees

In her post for Asana, Julia Martins offers a few tips on how to give feedback that makes a difference. One concept you’ll want to keep in mind is making feedback timely. It’s easy to see why the annual performance review, once the chief tool for giving feedback, has fallen out of favor. If a team member develops a bad habit, such as failing to respond to customer requests within 24 hours, that habit might continue for six months before you address it in a formal review session. By then, the team member has established a work practice. It will be much harder to convince them to correct their habit. When you address a problem as soon as you notice it, your employee realizes right away that they need to step up their game.


A survey by OnePoll, for Motivosity, reveals that 53% of team members are starved for feedback. They want to know how they are doing, good or bad. The pandemic and the shift to a remote or hybrid work situation has increased the need for manager communication. Some of this communication can be in the form of a check-​in or just wishing them a nice day. But employees also like to hear that they did a great job on a project. When you want to see improvement in performance and plan to use constructive criticism as your communication tool, Martins suggests you “evaluate your intent. Make sure you’re approaching the feedback with the intention of helping the other person grow.”

Don’t Overwhelm Team Members with Negativity

While it may be efficient for you to store up all the items you want to discuss until you have a one-​on-​one meeting with a team member, it’s not a great strategy from your team member’s perspective. If you attempt to cover too many items in your standing meeting, they may not understand which ones are most important to you. They also might not remember everything you discussed.

To make sure they get your message, speak with them privately. Explain you’d like to give them some feedback on a specific issue and then state your concern. It’s always appropriate to give them a few minutes to think about how to respond and to then listen to their answer. In the best-​case scenario, they may acknowledge they’ve noticed the problem and they’ll come up with a possible solution. That kind of exchange is also the perfect time for you to praise their thinking and the other tasks they are excelling at and serves your goal of retaining employees.

It's important to remember that many team members admire their supervisors. In fact, our research shows many sales reps would follow their manager to a new company. That kind of loyalty is flattering, isn’t it? But it doesn’t excuse you from helping your team members to be the best they can be.

You must give them feedback more frequently, and you should be honestly communicating with them. If your employees have taken a psychometric assessment, look at the results and learn about the ways each person prefers to interact with their manager. Don’t let your team members guess at whether they’re doing a good job. Provide them with concrete examples of what’s working and where they can improve and you’ll find that retaining employees isn’t as hard as you thought.

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