Effective Ways of Getting and Giving Employee Feedback

May 17, 2022
8 minute read

The most successful creative agencies are bold and creative. Great ideas are birthed by teams of individuals who are fully engaged in what they do. But with major shifts in work values and dynamics since the Covid-19 pandemic, are you still addressing the priorities of your employees?

Employee engagement encapsulates your team’s involvement, performance, and morale. It directly translates to productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

In March 2022, Microsoft launched a survey of 31,000 of its employees from 31 countries. Their key findings?


  • 53% of employees are more likely to prioritize their health over work
  • 52% of Gen Z and Millenials are considering getting new jobs next year
  • 54% of their leaders feel that they’re already out of touch with their employees’ needs


Expectations have changed. People are no longer willing to compromise personal values over the hustle and the cult of productivity.

With nearly 4.3 million people quitting their jobs in January 2022, it’s clear that organizations are finding it hard to keep talent. 54% of companies are finding it hard to find them too.

If you want to engage your teams, both your compensation and culture need to be competitive and aligned with what your team values. For this to happen, it’s necessary to invest time and energy in building a healthy feedback habit.

Let’s talk about how you can create a feedback loop in your creative agency and ultimately build a system that promotes fruitful communication.



Getting Employee Feedback

Systems that allow for effective communication pave the way for organizations to stay in tune with their teams’ needs and evolving priorities.

 6 Ways To Get Employee Feedback


1. Annual And Pulse Surveys

Annual surveys typically cover a wide range of topics. You can use them to know how your employees feel about your agency’s initiatives and know which ones they find most valuable.

Pulse surveys are more focused –they cover specific topics. You can use this to draw out your team’s concerns regarding relevant issues and important decisions.

Surveys are easy to scale and disseminate. However, it lacks the personalization of other feedback-gathering techniques where the collector can ask follow-up questions and request further explanations. This said, it’s advisable to couple surveys with other methods.


2. Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

A focused group discussion (FGD) is a facilitated session where a select few with specific backgrounds or experiences are gathered to talk about a topic. Respondents are encouraged to share their views in detail, occasionally bouncing them off of each other as it’s fleshed out.

Generally, FGDs require more effort compared to surveys. Facilitating skills are essential to ensure that the moderator’s way of questioning doesn’t skew opinions in a certain direction.


3. One-On-One Interviews

One-on-one interviews can be challenging to implement on a large scale. But if you want deeply comprehensive feedback, this is one of your best options.

Apart from the opportunity to discuss topics in-depth, it can make communication a level playing field for both extroverts and introverts alike. Provided that the facilitator can carry himself well, 1:1 discussions can yield honest feedback because of its more personal approach.


4. Company Events

Company events such as all-hands meetings are great ways for employees to communicate with upper management. In these events, plans are presented and attendees are given the chance to voice out questions and concerns.

Holding regular town hall meetings shows employees that their leaders care enough to show them their plans.


5. Internal Social Platforms 

Engaging online has become deeply ingrained in most of us. By providing ways for employees to share their insights online, you’re able to lessen the friction that other methods may bring. 

For people who aren’t comfortable asking questions in front of an audience during events, you can explore allowing them to post their comments after the gathering, instead. 

Internal social platforms can also serve as an avenue to disseminate other communication initiatives such as annual and pulse surveys.


6. Leader Approachability

Leader approachability can be affected by many factors. One is policies such as an open-door policy, direct chat rooms, or access via instant messaging platforms.

Another is relationship management: leaders’ efforts to build relationships and encourage openness through these bonds.

Team-building events can help foster this. Checking in and personal conversations would work as well.


Best Practices To Get Employee Feedback

Now that we’ve gone over the methods you can use to gather feedback, let’s dive into implementation notes to ensure their effectiveness.


  • Honor Confidentiality

If you want your employees to share honest feedback, honor your promise of confidentiality. 74% of employees say that they’d willingly share their insights if only results were truly confidential. The fear of possible retaliation –precedent or not, real or imagined –is a very real consideration.

five workplace scams

Anecdotal tweet


  • Use Different Methods

Factoring in individual personality and levels of social anxiety into the feedback-gathering process can give some people a louder voice. While social butterflies may feel comfortable bouncing off ideas with each other during FGDs, the more reserved ones may find the setting more detrimental for them to express themselves.


Employees with longer tenure tend to be more open to sharing feedback, a study showed. Exerting extra effort to hear from newer employees may be necessary to add depth to your findings.


  • Listen And Take Action

Once employees open up, gather as much information as possible by being open and inquisitive. If you’re in a conversation, avoid the temptation to be defensive. Instead, ask follow-up questions to deepen your understanding of where they’re coming from.

For example, if someone says, “Management needs to be more mindful of our needs as artists,” ask, “What does this look like for you?” Try to see the situation from his lens instead of bombarding him with existing efforts that you feel should address his concern.

Once you get information, follow through with action. Feeling like their insights are ignored is one of the major reasons many employees leave.


  • Be Creative

Feedback-gathering is an essential but extra task for employees. When you execute these initiatives, establish their importance and ensure that the employees are subscribed to your message.

Implementing a feedback habit can be challenging. To help make it stick, find ways to make feedback-gathering dynamic. Consider gamification to transform tasks into something more meaningful and engaging. Done right, it can eventually grow into something more natural –maybe even fulfilling.


Giving Employee Feedback

Just as important as getting feedback is giving it. Feedback can help curb negative behaviors and amplify positive ones as well.

4 Ways To Provide Employee Feedback


1. Annual Performance Evaluations

Performance evaluations are sessions where employers give feedback on an employee’s work for a certain period. Usually, the outcomes of the employee’s performance are evaluated against pre-set metrics to see if it’s up to par, below expectations, or beyond them. 

A qualitative or quantitative approach can be taken for this. It provides an avenue for affirmation, discussion, and strategizing for growth.


2. One-On-One Sessions And Check-Ins

One-on-ones and check-ins are generally conversational, but there are many ways to go about it. Given the intimacy of the setup, it can allow you to expound on your points and show sincerity. This is a good way to establish rapport and relationships, especially with employees you don’t always get to connect with, in the day-to-day operations.


3. Ad Hoc Moments

While most feedback formats cover an employee’s actions in retrospect, giving feedback on the fly can make it more memorable and fulfilling for the receiver.

When giving feedback on negative behavior, addressing it right away can also help lessen its repercussions. Right away,  it gives the employee an opportunity to think on her feet, adjust, and practice problem-solving.


4. Show, Don’t Tell

Aside from congratulating an employee for a job well done, share his accomplishment with the team. Give him a promotion or a cash bonus. Use his work as an example of best practice.

Saying something isn’t the only way you can give feedback. You can also use your actions.



Best Practices In Giving Employee Feedback


Taking feedback is challenging for most people. As a manager, it’s important for you to be mindful of how you give feedback to ensure that it’s affecting your teams the right way.


  • Start With Empathy And Assume Positive Intentions

Feedback will only work if the receiver is open to it. So before you say anything, be polite. Ask the person if it’s a good time and if she’s in a good headspace. Or better yet, set an appointment so she can prepare for it. 

Once you’re in the conversation, show empathy and openness. Assume that whatever she did comes from good intentions, and your job is to understand her thought process.

Be mindful of your tone. If you want openness, establish trust and safety.


  • Clarify Objectives And Take Ownership

Your intent for sharing feedback should be to help someone grow –not to feed your ego by proving a point. When you set your appointment, be sure that the objective of the conversation is clear.

For example, before you start telling your salesperson not to cut a customer off while she’s speaking, you can start with, “I’m giving you feedback because I know that you’re very passionate about your job. And I want to give you as much support as possible in helping you establish a good rapport with our clients.”

Then, proceed with stating your observations using “I” statements instead of using “we” and “they”.

“I noticed that while Mrs. Y was speaking, you tended to share your ideas before she could finish sharing her own. It’s clear to me that you know how to address her concerns very well and that’s good. But I feel worried that Mrs. Y will feel invalidated or disrespected.”

“I” statements allow you to be accountable for what you’re saying. In a way, it makes you vulnerable. This gives your employee permission to be open and vulnerable as well, giving way to a more fruitful discussion.


  • Make It Specific, Actionable, And Growth-Focused

Instead of using umbrella terms and general statements, talk about specific situations.

Continuing from the previous example, a wrong way of giving feedback could have been: 

“I noticed that you tend to cut our customers off even while they’re speaking.” 

This type of feedback can make the salesperson defensive. It gives the impression that this is something he does all the time which may not be true.

Citing a specific situation can make the employee more accepting of your observation. He can also take the mental initiative to reflect if there were other times that he did the same thing to other customers.

To facilitate learning, make your advice actionable. Talk about what he can do in the future instead of what he should have done.


Correct: “Next time, while listening to customers, you can nod your head to signal that you’re listening. Maybe even repeat some phrases of what they’re saying. This will show them you’re interested in their situation and are sincere in helping them out.”


Wrong: “While she was speaking, you should have nodded your head to signal that you were listening. Maybe even repeat some phrases of what she was saying.”


  • Be Timely

Be quick to recognize behaviors that are worthy of feedback. When you see someone doing good work, it must be your highest priority to point it out at the moment to increase the chances of them doing it again.

“ A culture of feedback is only possible when we learn to give feedback in impromptu moments, not just during the formal performance review process.” (Source: Culture Amp)


  • Personalize

The ability to take feedback is different for each individual. Establish relationships with your team to gather sufficient insight into everyone’s personality, disposition, and maturity when it comes to accepting praise or constructive criticism.

Remember, the goal of giving feedback is growth. While it’s ideal for everyone to be open and understanding, the people in your team will always be at different stages of growth. As a manager, it’s best to meet them where they are and help them grow from there.



How Agencies Can Build A Healthy

Feedback Culture

Incorporating feedback into your culture as an agency will help you maximize its benefits. Here’s how you can usher it in.

Build Skills: Coaching is an important skill for leaders to be capable of inspiring growth in the organization. In fact, the financial company Mastercard invested in helping their managers develop coaching skills. This may have helped them be externally recognized as one of the best companies to work for by Forbes and improve employee engagement.

“When managers can effectively coach employees, the performance management system is much more likely to be perceived as fair,” according to an article from McKinsey. Coaching skills won’t just help managers facilitate growth in their teams. They’ll also make employees more receptive to feedback because they trust its objectivity.


Cultivate Relationships: Allbirds is a company whose leaders advocate for leading with empathy. Building this type of relationship between management and employees makes it easier to give (and receive) feedback.

By “keeping the lines of communication open, developing a relationship based on trust and constant messaging, and encouraging individuals to ask for what they need,” the company is able to ensure that they’re aware of what the teams are going through. This helps them know what types of support they need.


Normalize And Systematize:  28% of employees report that feedback doesn't come often enough for them to know how to improve. Giving feedback only during the appraisal period can make it difficult to retain and apply. It can also cause employees to be defensive and blindsided by what will be brought up. 

To make feedback effective, practice periodic and frequent check-ins, be it formal or informal. 


Maximize Technology: Nowadays, there are many ways to gather data on your team’s efforts and decisions. Through your CRM, you can monitor which salespersons constantly engage with clients. Through task management tools, you can see who gets the most done. Through social media analytics and marketing metrics, you can know if your team’s campaigns are effective. Find opportunities to affirm your team when you see something that’s working.

At the same time, use technology to send timely feedback or compose surveys for comprehensive topics. Used well, technology can make your efforts easier to scale regardless of how big your agency is.


Over to You

A good feedback process allows members of an organization to learn from each other and maximize everyone’s capabilities. It also increases retention, improves performance, and helps companies maintain healthy cultures by making it easy to spot issues that need to be addressed.

To make creativity, growth, and excellence a systemic trait in your organization, invest time and energy in building a healthy feedback culture.


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