For those who are part of a team or manage one, giving effective feedback can be one of the toughest parts of a job. There's a lot that goes into giving feedback—the relationship with the recipient, the content delivered, the way it is delivered, and how follow-up is handled.

Most of the time, the difficulty is interpersonal. We fear that our opinion might demoralize the other person, create negative feelings, or a bad work environment. We might also think that our feedback won’t lead to change.

The challenge becomes even trickier in remote or hybrid work settings, where there are fewer opportunities to give feedback in the moment, and we tend to know very little about our teammates’ communication styles and quirks.

As Therese Huston notes—in a remote context the manager cannot rely on nonverbal cues such as body language, voice tone, and the spacial setup to set the tone of the conversation and make it effective:  “Taking a few steps to be more strategic about how you deliver constructive feedback can help prevent negativity bias and a digital venue from distorting how your employees receive your feedback.”

How to give effective feedback remotely

At Candor, we believe effective feedback should be honest, continuous, and go both ways, as this drives personal and professional growth while building support into the team’s DNA.

When conducted effectively feedback lets people know how they’re doing, where they’re excelling and where can they grow. For the team, it fosters openness, trust, and authenticity, which boosts productivity.

Here are eight tips to help you make your next feedback session more effective:

1. Check your motivations

”What is my main goal?” Make sure your goal is to help the team member improve and not to simply show dominance as a team leader. Also make sure you’re not giving feedback for the sake of giving feedback – many managers share empty feedback because they feel like they should, not to drive towards an explicit goal for their direct report. This reflection will also make it easier to explain why you’re giving them feedback in the first place.

2. Choose the right time and tool

Pick an appropriate time and setting for feedback. Face-to-face or video call is usually best for serious feedback; while an async tool like Candor can help you give light and continuous feedback supporting your team’s growth over time.

  • Don’t: Send an unexpected critical email.
  • Do: Schedule a video call to discuss performance and announce the topic of the conversation.

💡 Bonus tip: if you want to have your feedback in writing, you can always send a follow-up Slack or email recapping what you discussed after a call.

3. Provide specific, factual feedback

Focus on tasks and behaviours, not personality. Use clear examples of behaviors you like to see (ex: in line with your values) and what they could have done better to illustrate your points. Always come equipped with specific examples of what went wrong and how the team member could have made changes to lead to a better outcome.

  • Don’t: “Your work on the report needs improvement.”
  • Do: “For next month’s report, you might consider reviewing the structure and make it shorter for better readability."

4. Balance critical feedback with praise

Mix constructive criticism with positive reinforcement. Be careful not to sound like you’re forcing a feedback sandwich that doesn’t feel genuine.

  • Don’t: Only highlight mistakes.
  • Do: “Your report was well-researched, but the structure needs clarity.”

5. Focus on future growth

Offer suggestions for improvement rather than highlighting past mistakes. Assume the role of a coach. For example:

  • Don’t:  “You always miss deadlines.”
  • Do: “Let’s plan a timeline to help you meet future deadlines. Here’s a tool I’ve found useful myself.”

6. Follow up regularly

Regular, consistent feedback prevents anxiety, makes it easier to digest and learn from, and keeps you and your team members on track. Making feedback part of your weekly routine helps normalize the practice and make it feel like part of the work, rather than a one-off critique. As an added bonus, doing continuous feedback helps create a culture of development and learning.

  • Don’t: Wait for annual 360 reviews to give feedback.
  • Do: Provide feedback/tasks on current projects in the moment.

7. Make it a two-way conversation

Encourage dialogue, allowing the recipient to share their perspective and give you feedback. Managers can always benefit from feedback, so you can learn how to be a more effective leader. Making space for two-way feedback makes it less intimidating to receive feedback as a direct report and also helps you improve as a manager.

  • Don’t: Monologue your feedback.
  • Do: “How do you feel about this feedback? Do you have any feedback for me?”

8. Pay attention to body language

Use calm, engaged body language to create a receptive environment. Your tone should come across as genuine, so your team member knows that you’re delivering the feedback because you truly care about their development.

  • Don’t: Slouch or appear distracted.
  • Do: Maintain eye contact, nod, and listen actively.

How to create an effective feedback culture

With Candor, you can partner with anyone in your team space to start giving and receiving regular feedback. We have a library of thoughtful prompts – from communication styles to collaboration and performance – to let your teammate know where they’re thriving and where there’s room for improvement.

After you both complete your feedback, you'll get to see what the other person wrote. This way, you can learn from each other’s insights and foster continuous growth.

Here’s how it works in four easy steps:

1. Start a new feedback mission and select the teammate you’ll pair with. Use our library of thoughtful prompts to get helpful and honest feedback from each other.

2. Answer suggested prompts, as well as others in the prompt library. Responses are only visible to the two of you once you’ve both completed your feedback.

3. Review the feedback and discuss in support of each other’s growth. You can also leave reactions and comments directly on the feedback received.

4. Keep track of all feedback by visiting your Feedback dashboard. We’ll send you a reminder email when it’s time to do feedback again.

That’s a wrap!

Feedback can be a great way to build trust and growth into your team’s culture, but only if conducted effectively. When feedback is regular, constructive, and bi-directional, it turns into an opportunity for people to grow and excel in their roles. In turn, that will make your team more productive.

Candor feedback is a lightweight ritual that allows for continuous giving and receiving of feedback, helping digital-first teams learn and grow together.

Try Candor for free today!

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Candor makes it easy to connect and have fun with your teammates, even while you’re remote. Use Candor to do feedback, shoutouts, check-ins, and more, all in one place.

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