Do you ever wonder how you are doing each day in your current job? Do you only get an annual performance review and wish it were more frequent?

Employee feedback is one of the hardest areas a leader must deal with. Each employee has his or her own personality, quirks and performance. And each may respond differently to both positive and negative feedback.

Giving feedback can result in some conflict, but a leader must be able to give both types. Giving too much of either one can alienate the employee, but giving too little may make that person less likely to want to do a good job.

In a 2014 Zenger/Folkman study, there were some 2,700 respondents to a Harvard Business Review blog. This online survey had both positive and negative questions relevant to attitudes about feedback experiences.

The study indicated that:

  • "The great majority of leaders tend to avoid giving feedback, especially corrective or negative feedback and that 43 percent of leaders said they found that giving corrective feedback is a 'stressful and difficult experience.'"
  • Virtually every employee in the organization wants more feedback. In our survey, almost two-thirds agreed that "my performance and possibilities for success in my career would have increased substantially if I had been given more feedback."
  • "64 percent of respondents said 'they are not praised or recognized too much.'"

Here four tips on giving feedback:

1. Be a leader

It is your responsibility to give feedback, so lead by example. Not all feedback will always be on a positive note. However, knowing how to balance the good with the bad is key. Everyone needs feedback, and even leaders should know how they are doing. It helps no one when there is no indication on an individual's performance.

Be a leader that can properly communicate what is expected of each of your employees.

The best way to help employees is to give them a true indication of how they are doing. Rather than wait for that once-a-year dreaded performance review, have more consistency in either weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews. In fact, when someone does a great job on that difficult project, a sincere thank you and saying "great job" goes along way in the morale department.

2. Set realistic goals

In defining the roles and responsibilities it is a good idea be realistic rather than going overboard. Making employee goals too difficult will defeat the purpose of establishing them. The employee will most likely become disgruntled and will not take them seriously.

You can use such things metrics as a way to measure performance, but also be aware that too many goals can also be defeatist. Have these goals be in alignment with the mission and vision of the organization. Have employees participate in this exercise, and this will enable them to understand what is required.

3. Be specific

The needs of the organization are constantly changing. Having a constant exchange between you and the employee will facilitate a better understanding when it is time to give feedback. When outlining roles and responsibilities, make sure there is input from the employees. This can become a living document that can be changed when warranted.

As a leader, you are setting an example in how to communicate. Giving feedback should not be a guessing game. Be as specific as possible.

The employee should know upfront what is expected. When these goals are not being met, sit down with the employee and emphasize what needs to be changed. This exchange will help in establishing a better rapport between both parties, and the feedback process will go more smoothly.

4. Give recognition

Giving recognition is probably the most important part of feedback. It is also the most underutilized area in the feedback process. Regular intervals of recognition are a valuable tool in a leader's toolbox. Oftentimes, a leader is afraid he/she will overuse the giving of recognition. There is a balance factor involved, and each employee deserves more than the occasional thank you.

As more organizations are downsizing and doing more with less, giving recognition is important than ever. It helps to build morale, and this a much-needed attribute that an organization should follow.

Organizations need all the help they can get, and being able to give both positive and negative feedback is necessary in the business world today. Each has its place in making sure employees will both grow in their respective careers and will ultimately become a great asset to the organization.