Managing Diversity in the Workplace: Building an Inclusive Organizational Culture

Best practices for managing diversity in the workplace to promote innovation, productivity, performance and profits. Tips for engaging a diverse workforce.

Diversity in the workplace is increasingly becoming a top priority for all organizational leaders. Initially, workplace diversity was merely a tick in the box with a narrow focus on just hiring professionals from different age, geographical and gender groups. The conversation has now matured significantly, with expansion not only in the scope of what diversity in the workplace entails, but also how it pans out. Let’s dive deep into the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Understanding diversity in the workplace

In the simplest terms, workplace diversity can be understood as a workplace which gives equal voice, recognition, representation and value to individuals of different backgrounds ranging from gender, race, culture, ethnicity to sexual orientation, religion and much more. More importantly, diversity in the workplace must not only take into consideration overt differences in looks and appearances, but also the covert ones, like differences in thoughts, opinions, perspectives, experiences, etc. At the same time, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is no longer limited to hiring diverse groups, but also ensuring their equal participation in all organizational processes and decision making. 

Types of diversity in the workplace

As the understanding of diversity in the workplace has been expanding, so has the types of diverse groups which are being given equal recognition. There is no global benchmark on which types for diversity an organization has to take into account, as the backgrounds of individuals vary significantly. Here is a quick list of types of diversity that organizations consider significant today:

  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Race
  • Age
  • Socio-economic background
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Geographical background
  • Disabilities
  • Education
  • Language

This list can go on based on the unique experiences of each organization. More often than not, gender diversity in the workplace, age, geography is common to all organizations irrespective of their location and industry focus. Other forms like cultural diversity in the workplace or diversity of religion, socio-economic background, etc. are more common to developing countries like India. On the other hand, diversity of race, ethnicity, etc. are more found in organizations headquartered in western countries. 

Benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Increasingly, organizations are viewing diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a business case bringing along multiple benefits for both the employees as well as the employers. Some of the top benefits of workplace diversity include:

1. Innovation

Diversity brings along different ideas, perspectives and experiences which enables organizations to innovate and think out of the box. According to a 2018 study by Harvard Business Review, companies with higher than average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues. Therefore, diverse thoughts can lead to new revenue streams with enterprise-wide innovation.

2. Market expansion

Workplace diversity also promotes competitive advantage for organizations as they are able to cater to diverse customer needs and expectations. According to research, around 70% of diverse companies are better positioned to capture new markets. Diversity ensures that your employees understand diverse markets and are able to make inroads into them.

3. Profits

Focus on workplace diversity positively impacts the bottom line of an organization as well. According to a McKinsey study, companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. Additionally, a diverse team can boost productivity by 35%. Invariably, increased productivity indicates greater profits.  

4. Talent pool

Organizations that value diversity witness twin benefits when it comes to onboarding human resources. Firstly, they have access to a much larger talent pool when they are not targeting a homogeneous group of individuals. Secondly, professionals themselves believe an organization’s focus on diversity and inclusion is an important attribute when they are looking out for opportunities. According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. 

Creating a business case for diversity in the workplace: Going beyond the numbers

In addition to showcasing how a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace could yield greater productivity, innovation and other business performance indicators, it is important to scratch beyond the surface. Here are a few practices that organizations leading the diversity and inclusion dialogue have put to play to create leadership as well as employee buy-in:

1. Identify their pain points

Organizations can converse with leaders and employees on a deeper level and understand their pain points and any instances of stereotyping, discrimination, etc. they may have faced. It may not only be limited to their professional life, but can span across. Exclusion and discrimination at times takes such subtle forms that individuals don’t even realize it is happening to them. However, when they are made aware about the same, they become advocates of inclusion. In such a situation, those in positions of power and influence tend to make a difference and get inclined towards managing diversity in the workplace.  

2. Communicate employee pulse

Unless leaders acknowledge that there is a problem and need for diversity and inclusion, getting the needle moving towards building a business case is very difficult. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to let the leaders know the pulse of the organization as a whole. Organizations must gauge how their employees value diversity and their inclination towards working for an inclusive organization. When leaders are presented with evidence from their own organization, they are bound to see the business case for D&I.

3. Negative reinforcement

It is also important to showcase the negative impact of not focusing on such efforts will create a sense of urgency and importance. Simply talking about how lack of D&I results in employee turnover and the cost of each employee turnover will be a good starting point. When leaders do a cost-benefit analysis, the cost saved on replacement of employees will outweigh the cost of D&I initiatives, creating a clear business case.  

4. Identify business challenges

Business challenges due to a lack of focus on diversity and inclusion can serve as a clear business case. For instance, if all other organizations in an industry are focusing on D&I, the organization not considering it as a business case might face reputational risks in the market. Therefore, it is very important to identify business challenges which either arise due to absence of workplace diversity efforts or which can have a potential solution with such efforts. 

How to measure the level of workplace diversity?

Before jumping on to how to manage diversity in the workplace and promote it, organizations must focus on measuring and tracking a few key metrics. Unless organizations have a baseline on the challenges to diversity along with the diversity of inclusion goals, their efforts and investments will not entail 100% success. The following metrics can help organizations identify gaps, prioritize initiatives and set targets to achieve their diversity goals:

1. Recruitment

The first metric to measure is the first step of the employee lifecycle. On the one hand, organizations must measure if their final recruitment process has a fair mix of diverse individuals, balanced with the application mix. For instance, if 40% of women applied, look at the mix of men and women who have actually been hired to check if it has a fair representation of women. Additionally, focus on identifying reasons for weakness of applicant diversity. For instance, if applications from a particular group are virtually missing, organizations need to revisit the job description and other parameters to rectify their recruitment strategies and processes.

2. Retention

Next in line, organizations must also evaluate their performance in retaining workplace diversity. At regular intervals, 5 years, 10 years and so on, organizations must measure their diversity mix and compare it with the previous levels to understand if the level of diversity is increasing or decreasing. 

3. Promotion

Organizations need to also track the promotions they make and compare the ones awarded to members of diverse groups vis-a-vis others. For instance, if the representation of women at the entry level is 30%, a similar proportion must be witnessed years later at the top management. If the situation is any different, then organizations need to revisit their development efforts, promotion parameters and retention strategies. 

4. Pay and benefits

This parameter to measure workplace diversity doesn’t need much explanation. Those at the same level, performing the same role with similar skills and competencies must receive similar compensation and benefits. Organizations that fair well on this metric are usually more diverse and inclusive.

In addition, metrics like representation across departments, participation in events, development opportunities, etc. are also important to gauge the true level of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Organizations can leverage a variety of tools to measure and track these metrics and subsequently, set goals, conceptualize strategies and improve their performance. Employee inclusion surveys are an effective way to gauge employee opinion on diversity at the workplace, especially to understand their take on fairness of promotions, recognition, participation, etc. Focus group discussion with employees representing diverse groups to understand their pulse and pain points can also be highly effective. Finally, unconscious bias tests like the Implicit Association Test by Harvard can help organizations understand their position in the diversity and inclusion spectrum. 

How to promote diversity in the workplace? 

The following section will focus on how to manage diversity in the workplace and promote the same. Open communication, transparency, treating everyone with equality and personally are a few established practices, there are others equally effective, but sometimes overlooked. Based on industry benchmarks, we have curated a list of the best practices for leaders striving to promote workplace diversity: 

1. Get hiring right

Hire talent from diverse backgrounds starting with application sourcing. The job description must be inclusive and shouldn’t even subtly indicate preference for one group over another. Additionally, the criteria for selection must be objective. Many organizations emphasize on a cultural fit when it comes to hiring, the meaning of which is mostly subjective. Generally, cultural fit refers to a homogeneous group of people Therefore, the parameters for selection must be objective and comparable, supported by a diverse interview panel. Finally, organizations should limit the notion of referral hiring, where existing employees refer individuals from their networks for the role. While this is an easy way to access reliable talent, however, more often than not, this limits diversity. 

2. Policies and practices

Organizations must have a zero tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination, bullying etc. on any attribute, including diversity. Such policies must be effectively communicated with strategic practices for strong implementation. For instance, there must be a clear and easy process for grievance sharing and redressal, strict action against the perpetrator, if found guilty, etc. At the same time, supporting diverse groups by infrastructural and other efforts is also important. For instance, having feeding spaces for new mothers, promoting braille signage or ramps for those with physical disabilities can promote diverse representation. 

3. Training and mentoring

Promoting sensitization training programs, mentoring initiatives and other such efforts are likely to reduce unconscious bias and other obstacles in the way of workplace diversity. Not only will such programs help everyone value the perspectives and contributions of others, it will also inspire confidence in diverse groups to come up the curve in all parameters. Communicating in a sensitive manner, showcasing empathy, etc. are all by products of such efforts. 

4. Promote executive diversity

It is important to have diverse representation from top to bottom. Unless diverse groups see diversity at the C-suite level, they will always doubt their capabilities to rise in a particular organization. Therefore, workplace diversity must focus on creating diverse role models in leadership and executive positions with influence and decision making capabilities. 

Managing a diverse team remotely: Top 6 strategies

With a quick transition to remote work as a result of the pandemic has pushed organizations to reinvent their strategies on how to manage diversity in the workplace for a remote team. Here are the top six strategies that most forward looking organizations are adopting:

1. Facilitate team communication, preferably with video

Facilitate communication and collaboration between diverse team members by assigning group tasks and projects. Ensure that team members have access to tools like Slack, Trello, etc. for effective collaboration. In addition, virtual coffee breaks with video interaction between different employees can be a great tool.

2. Be mindful

Managing workplace diversity remotely requires business leaders and managers to be mindful and don a blanket of empathy. It is very important to understand the different set of challenges that each employee is facing given the remote scenario and personalizing the approach to team management. A cookie cutter approach of expecting everyone to work at the same time and deliver the same output together might be an overstretch. 

3. Create virtual Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Transitioning to a virtual ERGs is the need of the hour. There are several ways to go about this. For one, organizations could simply take their existing ERGs online. At the same time, there is sufficient opportunity for organizations to lead the way for newer and smaller ERGs which were previously shunned off because of capacity constraints. With the flexibility to join sessions from home, such ERGs will see an increase in participation from both those who identify with the cause, but are shy of participating in person and allies too. 

4. Virtual team building activities

Virtual team building activities which require team participation could be leveraged by pairing up diverse minds. Finally, organizations need to step up their tech game with the right tools like Zoom to conduct virtual sessions and meetups.

5. Encourage digital training

Managing a diverse team remotely requires significant training to deal with individual and collective biases. As the workforce is going remote, organizations need to move such training to digital platforms. It might be a good idea to experiment with HR tech tools that help employees in the identification of bias and offer best practices to combat the same. Such tools can be calibrated to match the personal pace of each employee. At the same time, they can ensure complete anonymity and help employees navigate their way out of different biases. 

6. Lead by example

Team leaders need to keep their bias and comfort at bay when dealing with team members remotely. Firstly, leaders must ensure an open door policy to inspire confidence in different team members to approach them for anything without hesitation. Secondly, they should not fall back on certain favorite employees just because it is easier to collaborate with them remotely. It is important to give each team member the same treatment even when they are working from home. 

Challenges to managing diversity in the workplace

Most organizations today acknowledge the importance of diversity in the workplace. Additionally, they possess the right resources and make sizable investments towards diversity and inclusion initiatives However, not all efforts reap success. Here are the top reasons why workplace initiatives fail in organizations: 

1. Lack of Leadership Buy-In

Whenever an advocate of workplace diversity brings up the topic, there is little conversation on the way forward. Either it is outrightly dismissed, or the charge is given to an HR professional to deliberate on the next steps. Invariably, the lack of leadership involvement prevents the development of a culture that sees value in diversity and inclusion, causing such initiatives to fail. 

Mitigating the challenge: It is worth the effort to illustrate to the senior stakeholders the ROI of diversity and inclusion programs. This doesn’t simply mean quoting data points from industry reports. Rather, it involves projecting the impact of such programs with specific benefits to the organization’s priorities. 

2. Employee Resistance

Lack of leadership buy-in tends to percolate down to employee resistance. When employees feel that their leadership is not serious about a particular line of action, their commitment to the same also decreases. Especially employees that do not come under the diversity gamete see diversity training more as a mandate than something they look forward to.

Mitigating the challenge: It might be a good idea to not force everyone to attend each diversity training. While some sessions can be held organization wide which are generic in nature, others can have a sign up system. The freedom of choice is likely to boost participation and prevent such initiatives from failure. 

3. Tick in the Box Approach

For many organizations, managing diversity in the workplace comes from FoMo or the fear of missing out or just because that’s the latest trend. In such a situation, diversity & inclusion initiatives become more of a tick in the box, as opposed to genuine effort. This rarely has any real impact because it fails to deal with the unconscious bias and the whole sensitization and inclusion process, subsequently failing the strategy at large.

Mitigating the challenge: Organizations must focus on crafting a winning strategy which does not end on information dissemination, but actually focuses on behavioural changes with subtle nudges and consecutive sessions to bring about a cultural transformation.

4. Lack of Consistency

Conventionally for many organizations, diversity & inclusion initiatives were a result of an incident or an issue with a lack of a consistent approach to managing the diversity in the workplace. Efforts on a case to case basis lack authenticity and impact. 

Mitigating the challenge: It is best to have a consistent strategy to roll out the diversity and inclusion efforts instead of simply waiting for the next issue to fire up. Integrate diversity initiatives into the daily course of work and engagement activities, rather than making it yet another KRA for the employees, may be a good approach.

5. Poor Grievance Processes

The lack of an effective grievance process renders a situation where someone who is uncomfortable is unable to share the challenges they are facing. This will invariably mess with their mental wellbeing and in turn affect performance and engagement at work, leading to a failure of the initiatives.

Mitigating the challenge: Setting up an effective and robust process to manage grievances must be an integral part of any organization’s diversity strategy. Ensuring that the complainant is kept anonymous to prevent any form of domination or bullying along with a legally vetted process which ensures confidentiality will promote confidence within employees to share their grievances.

Building blocks for diversity and inclusion in the workplace

The foundation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace starts with a firm acknowledgement of the need for the same and a strategic plan of action. There is no doubt about the fact that successfully managing workplace diversity is the route to a positive employee experience. When each employee feels valued and receives a fair treatment, the engagement quotient is bound to soar high. Thus, organizations need to step up their efforts and manage a diverse team to reap benefits of innovation, belongingness and engagement. Here, organizations can leverage collaboration with platforms like SuperBeings to gauge employee pulse on diversity efforts. Such platforms can bring in consciousness and sensitivity at all levels with data-driven, real-time solutions based on industry practices to promote and manage diversity in the workplace.  

Suggested reading:

An Overlooked Path to Diversity and Inclusion: Active Listening

Decoding Employee Engagement with Inclusion and Diversity

Make your organisation a diverse workplace for your employees. Book a demo today to streamline your organisation's people management process.

Garima Shukla

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hello world! I am Garima and I research and write on everything we are doing to make the world of work a better place at SuperBeings

Latest posts

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50+ Most Useful Employee Onboarding Survey Questions

‘Onboarding: How to get your new employees up to speed in half the time’ - George Bradt, founder and Chairman PrimeGenesis

Did you know that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%? 

However, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job at onboarding new employees. 

This clearly states that while employee onboarding has a direct impact on the bottom line, most organizations miss out on how to get it right. 

Don’t let that happen to you. To onboard new employees like a pro, keep reading.

What is an onboarding survey?

By definition, an onboarding survey is a questionnaire that is administered on new hires to gauge their initial experience and level of satisfaction, in an attempt to understand their engagement and retention potential. 

As an HR, you can get multiple insights from an onboarding survey, including:

  • what employees thought about the organization when they heard about it for the first time
  • how their impression changed over time 
  • whether or not their experience aligns with their expectations, etc.

It can help you estimate how long the employees are likely to stay and how you can further optimize your onboarding process to make it more aligned with employee expectations. 

Why are onboarding surveys important?

An effective onboarding survey can help you reflect on your performance through the onboarding process, which directly impacts KPIs for organizational success, including:

1. Retention

93% of employers believe a good onboarding experience is critical in influencing a new employee’s decision whether to stay with the company. At the same time, 25% of a company’s new hires would leave within a year if the onboarding experience was poor. 

2. eNPS

20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member and an onboarding survey can help you identify the reasons for the same. However, new team members who were asked to provide feedback prior to their start date also had a 79% increase in willingness to refer others. Thus, illustrating how onboarding surveys and feedback can impact eNPS.

Read: How to use eNPS for better employee engagement

3. Satisfaction and Engagement

Employees with exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and 70% say they have ‘the best possible job’.

4. Performance

77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals. However, 49% of individuals who failed to reach their first performance milestone had no official onboarding instruction. An onboarding survey can help you determine the effectiveness of your onboarding process.  

5. Other

In addition, your new employees might also have an inclination towards providing feedback as a part of the onboarding survey, which you will lose out if you don’t conduct the same. Research shows that only 26% of new employees recall being asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date wherein 91% of new hires are willing to provide this feedback. 

Employee onboarding survey: Best practices

Now that you understand the importance of an employee onboarding survey, let’s quickly discuss how to effectively run an onboarding survey. 

1. Set the cadence

You must coincide your employee onboarding survey with important milestones for the new employee in the organization. Mostly, these milestones coincide with the end of the first few months. Thus, you should circulate your onboarding survey after 30, 60 and 90 days respectively, with different objectives for each. Furthermore, you can send interim surveys in case you feel the need, for instance, when the employee starts a project, or when the orientation process is over. 

“Effective employee onboarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.”- Suhail Doshi, founder and chairman of Mixpanel, Inc.

2. Identify critical areas and build questions

Based on the milestones or cadence you have set up, it is important to identify areas you would want to cover with each milestone. For instance:

In the first 30 days, you should focus on themes like: 

  • Orientation process
  • Initial thoughts
  • Expectation alignment 
  • Recruitment process
  • Onboarding experience

In 60 days, you can touch on themes like:

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Level of engagement and satisfaction
  • Induction process

By the end of 90 days, focus should shift towards:

  • Manager support
  • Role clarity
  • Likelihood to stay
  • Organizational alignment

Once you have decided the themes, you can start building questions, a snapshot of which is covered in the next section or you can download the template now here. The themes can be fluid across milestones, depending on the context for your organization. 

3. Roll out the survey for participation

Once the milestone arrives, you should roll out the onboarding survey and drive participation. It is important to explain to your new employees why the onboarding survey is important and how they can fill it up. Give them the requisite time, deadlines and communicate what will be the next steps to encourage them to participate. 

4. Follow up

Simply rolling out the survey is not enough. You must reach out to your new employees to remind them to fill the onboarding survey as amidst numerous new things, they might lose track of it. Don’t push too hard, yet send subtle reminders to get genuine responses. For instance: employee survey tools such as SuperBeings integrate with chat tools like Slack, Teams, Gchat to send personalized nudges to fill out the survey in the flow of work at set intervals as well as allows them to participate directly without switching context. 

Unlock a wide array of survey questions and employee analytics. See how SuperBeings can help

5. Take action

Once your onboarding survey responses are in, slice and dice them to get insights into what your employees feel and leverage the data points to further refine your onboarding process to facilitate engagement, retention and advocacy from the beginning. 

Sample onboarding survey questions for 30-60-90 day review

Taking cue from the section above, here are 50+ onboarding survey questions that you can leverage to gauge the pulse of your new employees as they complete different milestones.

You can also download these questions as a template and use it whenever you need. Click here to download

1. Onboarding survey questions for 30 day review

a) Onboarding and orientation process

  1. How can we change or improve the onboarding process?
  2. What did you like most about the onboarding process?
  3. Was the orientation interactive and engaging?
  4. Did the onboarding process meet your expectations?
  5. Do you feel welcome and proud to be working here?
  6. How would you rate the duration and quality of your onboarding experience?
  7. How would you describe your first day?

b) Decision related questions

  1. What were the top 3 reasons for joining this company?
  2. Do you think those reasons have been met?

c) Technical training and knowledge transfer

  1. Have you received the training that you were promised during your induction?
  2. Did the training meet your expectations and was accurately described during the hiring process?
  3. Is the training relevant to your roles and responsibilities?
  4. Were adequate tools and materials shared during training to facilitate knowledge transfer?

2. Onboarding survey questions for 60 day review

a) Engagement related questions

  1. Would you recommend the company to others in your network?
  2. Do you see yourself working here in 2 years?
  3. Do you feel motivated to come to work in the morning?
  4. Do you feel prepared for your role?

b) Onboarding experience

  1. Did the first 30 days of onboarding go as expected?
  2. What is the one thing you would like to change from your experience so far?

c) Company policies

  1. Are you clear on the different company policies shared with you?
  2. Do you have any concerns about any of the policies that you would like to highlight?
  3. Do you think any policy is missing that you think must be a part of our governance?

d) Questions about team

  1. Have your team members been integral in smooth onboarding?
  2. Have you been able to connect and collaborate with all your team members?
  3. Do you consider your team members to be welcoming and inclusive?
  4. What is the thing you would like to change about how your team works currently?

e) Reflection questions

  1. Have you been able to achieve the goals you set out for your 60 days?
  2. How has your journey been so far?
  3. What has been your biggest accomplishment in 60 days?
  4. What are some achievements you would like to ensure in the next 30 days?

3. Onboarding survey questions for 90 day review

a) Role and expectation clarity

  1. Do you have an understanding of what is expected from you as a part of this role?
  2. Is your role similar to what was communicated to you during the hiring process?
  3. Do you have the necessary resources you need for the role?
  4. Do you have clarity of your goals?
  5. Do you understand how your work will be evaluated?
  6. Does your role meet your career aspirations?
  7. What do you think is the most difficult part about your role?
  8. What excites you most about your current role?
  9. Do you understand the importance of the work you do?

b) Organizational alignment

  1. Do your values align with the organizational values?
  2. Do you believe in the vision and mission of the organization?
  3. Do you believe your ideas are valued?
  4. Do you have clarity on the organization’s future plans and do you align with them?
  5. Do you see yourself as a part of this organization 5 years from now?

c) Manager support

  1. Have your conversations with the managers been effective?
  2. Does your manager support your career aspirations?
  3. Does your manager provide you with the necessary support to perform your role effectively?
  4. Do you receive regular feedback from your manager?
  5. Does your manager include you in key discussions, wherever applicable?

d) Other questions

  1. What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
  2. Do you feel your onboarding was successful?
  3. How can we help you in improving the overall experience?
  4. Do you feel included and accepted by everyone in the team?
  5. How do you see yourself progressing from here?
  6. Do you have access to all the information you need?

Wrapping up (TL:DR)

By now, it would be very clear to you that an employee onboarding survey can help you in multiple ways to create a high performance culture. It can enable you to augment retention, engagement, satisfaction and advocacy among employees to ensure that there is minimal turnover and you are able to attract high quality talent. Ensure that you roll out an onboarding survey at 30/60/90 days frequency to check onboarding experience, knowledge transfer, manager support, role clarity, etc. 

You should focus on other forms of employee feedback on culture, training and development opportunities, level of engagement, manager effectiveness, workplace collaboration, work-life balance, among others. 

Finally, you should focus on leveraging technology and automation to add efficiency and effectiveness to your onboarding survey and process. 

Research shows, automating onboarding tasks resulted in a 16% increase in retention rates for new hires.

Thus, consider partnering with a survey platform which enables you to:

  • Use science-backes best practices onboarding survey templates
  • Track employee milestones automatically and roll out surveys on due date with zero to minimal manual intervention 
  • Integrate surveys with existing chat tools for reminders and sending out survey questions
  • Use NLP for decoding sentiments behind open comments to understand the reason behind each response
  • Use other employee engagement surveys to get the whole picture of new hire engagement

Related Reading

How to use employee engagement survey comments

Best employee engagement survey tools in the market today

min read

How to Give Constructive Feedback? (With Examples)

When it comes to performance management for employees, you would agree that feedback plays an important role. However, only offering positive feedback and appreciating the performance of your employees is not enough. You need to give them an equal amount of constructive feedback which is specific to ensure high levels of performance. If you feel that your employees may not embrace constructive feedback, think again.

Research shows that 92% of people believe that constructive feedback is effective at improving performance.

In this article we will help you understand how you can give constructive feedback and examples you can leverage. 

What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback is essentially a tool that most forward looking professionals leverage to help others in their team with specific and constructive inputs on areas where one’s performance can be improved. Put simply, if you have an employee who doesn’t pay attention to detail, constructive feedback involves helping them acknowledge that this is a problem area, and more than that, enabling them with the support to overcome the same. It involves not only identifying a performance problem, but also, providing action items and ways to address the same. 

Importance of constructive feedback

Now that you have an understanding of what constructive feedback means, let’s quickly look at some of the top reasons why constructive feedback is important. Constructive feedback:

  • Improves performance: It enables your team members to understand how they can perform better with specific inputs on areas of improvement
  • Reinforces expectations: It helps your employees clearly gauge what is expected out of them in terms of performance, and sets clear deliverables and measurement parameters to avoid any surprises during performance appraisal
  • Boosts morale and confidence: It involves also appreciating employees for a job well done and illustrates how they can become a better version of themselves
  • Facilitates employee stickiness: It ensures that employees see your organization which cares about their professional growth and encourages them to stick around longer, and even act as advocates for others.

Positive feedback vs constructive feedback 

When delivering feedback, you must understand the difference between positive and constructive feedback and ensure that you use both of them where they fit the best. Here a quick distinction between positive feedback vs constructive feedback:

  • Positive feedback focuses on a job well done and highlights where an employee has excelled. Whereas, constructive feedback talks about areas of improvement and action items for desirable outcomes. 
  • While positive feedback seeks to reinforce the positive behavior, constructive feedback focuses more on facts and traits.
  • Positive feedback is a reflection of the past performance and doesn’t necessarily have a futuristic orientation, however, constructive feedback takes reference from the past to feed better performance in the future.  
  • “Your presentation during the board meeting was crisp and informative” is an example of positive feedback. Whereas, “While your presentation was informative, you can focus more on articulation to ensure that all your research is communicated in a way that everyone is able to understand. Using pointers can help here”, is an example of constructive feedback.
In a nutshell, positive feedback is a reinforcement tool, whereas constructive feedback is a mechanism to facilitate development. 

How to give constructive feedback

With an understanding of the fundamentals of constructive feedback, let’s quickly jump to the best practices which can help you deliver constructive feedback in a nuanced and effective manner. 

1. Decide when to give the constructive feedback

The first thing you need to focus on is ensuring that the timing of the constructive feedback is ideal. For instance, a busy period when the employee is putting in a lot of effort may not be ideal for giving them feedback about their performance from three months ago. At the same time, ensure that you provide constructive feedback regularly and consistently, to avoid recency or primacy bias. However, don’t offer feedback when you are angry about their performance either. 

2. Set the context and build trust

Before you get down to giving the feedback, set the tone. Share with the employee the purpose of the meeting and make them comfortable prior to sharing your reflections. It is important that you build trust so your employees can share their perspective and don’t feel intimidated by what you have to say. 

3. Share your reflections

Once the context and tone is set, start sharing your reflections. Your focus should be on sharing what you have observed about their performance. However, ensure that you also share how the same is likely to impact their career growth as well as organizational success. For instance, if you are providing constructive feedback about missing deadlines, you can use the impact of losing clients for the organization and a casual attitude marker for the employee.

4. Give specific examples

When sharing reflections, use specific examples of when you noticed a particular behavior. For instance, in the above example, you can share instances of when the employee missed his/her deadlines. Ensure that you use examples which illustrate a pattern, rather than a one off incident, which is very uncommon. Furthermore, always use concrete examples and not interpretation of what you hear or see.   

5. Balance positive and negative

With constructive feedback, your focus should be on helping the employee improve their performance and work on their areas of development.

However, simply pointing out their weaknesses or negatives in their performance will not help. You need to also talk about some of the positive aspects of their performance and how those qualities can help them absorb and implement their constructive feedback. 

6. Be empathetic

Emotional intelligence is extremely important when delivering constructive feedback. You cannot be apathetic towards your employee when delivering the same. Put yourself in their shoes to choose your phrases carefully. We will share some examples in the next section. Also, use your EQ to read the situation when you are delivering the feedback. If you see that the employee is getting uncomfortable, take a pause and comfort them first. Read their gestures and body language to ensure that the employee is not feeling attacked. 

7. Don’t make it personal

Like it or not, constructive feedback involves pointing out one’s weaknesses and areas of improvement. However, you should refrain from equating the performance of the employee with his/her personality or whole self. For instance, if someone misses deadlines, encourage them to be more organized or prioritize important work, than labeling them as a procrastinator. 

8. Encourage response from the other side

While you are delivering the constructive feedback, you have to make sure it is a dialogue.

The idea is to give the other person enough room to share their side of the story.

Try to understand whether or not they agree with your feedback and how they perceive the same. They may share the lack of support or resources, which have resulted in a weak performance. Be open to some reverse feedback as well. Again, your EQ must be at play here. If your employee has an outburst, or reacts negatively, you need to stay composed and calm them down. 

9. Discuss potential solutions

Once you and your employee are aligned on the areas of improvement, the most important part of constructive feedback is to provide adequate solutions to address the performance challenges. Don’t give abstract or vague solutions like be punctual if the employee misses deadlines. Rather, give very specific and action oriented solutions which are directed towards a particular outcome. The idea is to collectively understand the cause of the weak area of performance and use concrete solutions to remedy the same. 

10. Create a time bound action plan

Now that you have shared some potential solutions, you must revise the top action items with your employee to avoid any confusion. At the same time, you should focus on creating a time bound plan with key milestones to ensure that development is taking place. Summarize what was discussed and how you will proceed from there. Best is to set up a date to review the progress to ensure constructive feedback is paid heed to. 

Read our article on Start Stop Continue Feedback to give action oriented feedback

20 Constructive feedback examples 

Here are top 20 constructive feedback examples that you can use during your next conversation. To make your constructive feedback more effective, we have also illustrated examples of what you should steer away from.

1. Communication skills

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I would really like to know how you have progressed on the tasks assigned to you last month. It would be ideal if you could share a progress update on what has been achieved with a small summary of challenges/ support needed at the end of every week to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have not kept your team updated about your work, this is highly unprofessional.

2. Attention to detail

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I was going through the work you submitted last week and I can see you have put in a lot of effort. However, I could see that there were some small errors and inaccuracies in the report across multiple sections. I believe that if you proofread your work thoroughly before turning it in, it will reduce the number of iterations and improve your quality of work. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You seem completely distracted as you have been submitting flawed and below average work, this will not be tolerated. 

3. Time management

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I understand that you are working on multiple projects, however, you need to ensure that the most important projects are not overlooked and their timelines are not missed. Therefore, I would suggest you create a list of tasks you are working on and check with the respective reporting managers on the priority and set clear expectations to ensure that no deadlines are missed. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have missed your deadline again, it seems like you are not serious about you work. 

4. Goal achievement

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you have been able to achieve only a part of the goals that you set out for this year. Maybe you were trying to spread yourself too thin. I would suggest you reduce the number of projects you are working on and ensure that the goals you set you are able to achieve. Furthermore, you must be vocal about the support or resources you need to achieve your goals. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

Are you even serious about your work, your level of goal achievement indicates otherwise. 

5. Absenteeism

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you have been taking some time off lately, without any prior intimation. Let’s try to understand if there is a particular reason for the same. We can work on your schedule to make it more flexible. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have been missing all meetings lately, this tardiness is not appreciated. 

6. Problem solving

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you are excellent at execution of ideas. However, I believe that you need to focus more on coming up with solutions on your own. I would suggest participating more in the brainstorming sessions and coming up with solutions. Try to think on your own, before you reach out to others with the problem.

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You lack any problem solving capabilities, and will be stuck to execution for the rest of your career.

Wrapping up

Constructive feedback is integral to organizational success. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always use facts and examples to deliver constructive feedback
  • Don’t forget to differentiate between positive and constructive feedback
  • Make sure you have practical tips or suggestions 
  • Leverage specific constructive feedback examples for specific performance problems, instead of being vague

Related Reading

50 top 360 degree feedback question examples

150 performance review phrases

min read

How to Use Performance Management Cycle for High Performance Teams

While performance management has been a key priority for organizations, for a long time, year end reviews were considered to be the most effective way to facilitate the same. However, recently organizations are observing a shift towards continuous performance management with an introduction of the performance management cycle. This article will focus on different aspects of the performance management cycle and how it enables unlocking the potential of high performance teams. 

What is a performance management cycle?

Before going into the diverse aspects, you should first understand what a performance management cycle essentially is. If you have an idea of what continuous performance management is, you’re already a step ahead in the understanding. Performance management cycle primarily is a way or a model in which you evaluate or focus on the performance of your employees throughout the year. The idea is to break down the different elements of employee performance into different stages and focus on them consistently. It starts with setting goals and ends with rewards for a job well done, which leads to setting of new goals and the performance management cycle resets.  

Understanding 4 stages of the performance management cycle

While you may want to divide your performance management cycle into any number of stages, mostly there are four stages. 


The first stage, at the very beginning of the performance management cycle, focuses on creating a plan for the performance ahead. The idea is to have a clear understanding on what your employee must achieve and how you will eventually review and evaluate them. During the planning stage, you and your team member, collectively should:

  • Set SMART goals of OKRs based on the performance expectations
  • Have clear KPIs or metrics which you will use for performance appraisal
  • Clarify how individual goals or OKRs contribute to organizational vision

Thus, the planning stage of the performance management cycle sets the tone for the year ahead and ensures there is clarity at all levels. 


Once the goals have been set in the planning stage, you enter the monitoring stage of the performance management cycle. This stage essentially focuses on ensuring that things are moving as planned. The idea is to ascertain that your team members are more or less on track for specific milestones outlined as a part of goal setting. Additionally, this stage will help you address any performance challenges that you may observe, sooner than later. Monitoring stage includes:

  • Regular one-on-one meetings to review performance so far
  • Providing feedback to your team members on what you think has been going well and what needs to improve
  • Relooking at goals in case they are behind or ahead of schedule in terms of achievement
  • Understanding the kind of extra support or resources your team members might need to improve their performance
  • Having candid conversations with your employees on wellbeing, professional development objectives, and other factors which may impact performance, morale and engagement 

The monitoring stage essentially focuses on tracking the performance of your employees against the set goals to provide constructive feedback and help them perform better. 


The third stage of the performance management cycle comes into existence towards the end. It involves reviewing the performance and providing ratings based on the established KPIs and metrics. While this is the formal review process, if you have been constantly monitoring the performance of your employees, this will essentially be a consolidation of all the reviews and feedback shared overtime. While delivering performance reviews, ensure that you:

  • Shed any performance review biases that might come your way, including primacy effect, recency bias, halo/horns effect, etc. 
  • Give your employees concrete examples and facts to support your review, rather than being vague and ambiguous
  • Should try to get 360 degree feedback and review for your team members
  • Answer some of the following questions to create an informed review:
  1. Did the employee achieve the goals set out?
  2. What were the key enablers in their achievement?
  3. Did you observe growth in the employee during the performance management cycle?
  4. Did the employee share any concerns, and were they addressed?

Since you have been connecting regularly with your employees, the reviews will not come as a surprise to them, but will help you monitor the trends of their performance and guide the next stage for the employee’s professional growth. 


Finally, the rewarding stage in the performance management cycle acts as a culmination to one cycle and sets stage for the commencement of the next. The objective is to take into account their performance over the performance management cycle and create a culture of rewards and recognition to celebrate and appreciate high performance. Some of the quick ways to reward your employees include, giving them:

  • Healthy increments and promotions
  • Public appreciation through social media, company intranet
  • Bonuses and other incentives
  • Rewards like vouchers, gifts, etc. 

This stage is important to make your employees feel valued and motivate them to keep the performance going. It will also push average performers to step up their efforts and enable you to create a high performance culture. 

Why is a performance management cycle important?

Now that you understand the various stages of a performance management cycle, let’s quickly look at why the performance management cycle is important for your organization. It will help you:

  • Clearly define goals and expectations from your employees to drive directed performance.
  • Keep your employees engaged. When you constantly connect with your employees for 1-o-1 meetings and consistently take interest in their performance improvement, they are likely to feel engaged, satisfied and motivated.
  • Address performance challenges preemptively and provide your employees with corrective actions, resources and support to bridge performance issues.
  • Retain talent as employees who feel that their performance is being valued and receive regular feedback tend to stay longer at an organization. 

Top 4 ways in which performance management cycle leads to high performance

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, a performance management cycle can help you build a high performance culture in a number of ways. Some of the top aspects include:

Clarifies KPIs and metrics

What constitutes high performance can be abstract. For some, closing 5 deals can be high performance, for others, it might be closing 15. Planning stage in the performance management lifecycle will help your employees understand what constitutes high performance and thus, proceed towards it. 

Boosts recognition

A key part of the performance management cycle is the rewards and recognition. When employees feel their performance is being valued and recognized, they tend to double up their efforts, leading to a high performance team.

Facilitates communication and feedback

Monitoring and tracking followed by 1-o-1 conversations can help you communicate with your employees regularly. Not only will you track their performance, but will also listen to their concerns or challenges and offer them feedback. Such conversations and feedback have a positive impact on performance, leading to a high performance culture. 

Ensures appropriate training

One of the foundations of high performance is enabling your team members to undergo the right training. Performance management cycle can help you understand which training is important for your employees at which performance stage, realizing high quality results. 

Top tips for managers for effective performance management cycle

As a manager, there are several ways in which you can unlock the true potential of a performance management cycle. You are one of the key stakeholders who plays an important role in every stage of the cycle. Here are a few tips that can help you augment the effectiveness of the performance management cycle:

  • Invite employee participation and make the OKR setting process collaborative and action oriented
  • Provide constructive feedback to your employees, instead of being too sweet or too negative
  • Help your employees access the right resources and training they need to meet their goals
  • Give your employees a safe space to share their concerns and challenges
  • Don’t micromanage your employees in the name of monitoring
  • Be open about relooking at the goals in case of a misalignment as you move along the performance management cycle

Benefits of using a performance management tool

A performance management tool can significantly help you streamline your performance management cycle by offering the following benefits. 

Performance snapshots

Get automated performance snapshots of your employee’s performance over the 9 box grid to track performance trends over time and provide reviews without recency bias.

1:1 conversations

Leverage guided templates with AI based suggestions for your 1:1 conversations with employees during the monitoring stage based on performance over time. Receive suggested talking points for goal-centered conversations.

Compare performance

Look at historic feedback to see improvement in performance and compare performance over time. You can also compare performance of peers over specific parameters. 

Related Reading

How to create a high performance culture using OKRs

7 steps to effective performance management system

12 common performance review biases to avoid

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