How to Offer Constructive Feedback to Employees for Results

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Know how to give constructive feedback that builds up your employees. 

Feedback is a vital element to any successful business. It is a useful tool for guiding your employees toward goals and expectations, redirecting problem performance and giving guidance in a helpful manner to bring employees back on the right track toward success.

Part of being a good leader is knowing how to give constructive feedback that has value and builds up your employees instead of breaking them down. Instead of just giving simple criticism and praise, use these tips to give information-specific constructive feedback.

Include Specifics
Sure, employees love to hear “good job,” but what does that simple praise really tell them? To give meaning to your feedback, be specific. Begin each key point with an “I” statement, like “I observed,” “I noticed” or “I saw.” This language will help you introduce specific issues or topics.

There’s a difference between saying “great job” and “I noticed you really took initiative to get that project started. Great job!” The latter tells your employee exactly what was so great about his or her actions, and he or she will remember that in the future.

Work on Your Delivery
Anyone who has been the victim of a sarcastic remark knows that the way you say something is sometimes more important than the actual content. When giving feedback, follow these delivery tips to keep it constructive:
  • Be direct: Don’t beat around the bush. Deliver both positive and negative feedback in a straightforward way.
  • Don’t give mixed messages: Try to eliminate words like “but” and “however” from your feedback. If Molly “did a great job, but….” then she probably didn’t do a great job. The words create contradictions that muddle the real point of your feedback.
  • Express concern: When giving negative feedback, concern and care go much farther than harshness, anger, disappointment or frustration. Be objective to keep the content of your message clear.
  • State observations: Comment on only what you observe, not what you interpret. Instead of characterizing behaviors with opinions or analysis, stick to a more concrete level to bring a nonjudgemental and factual aspect to your feedback.

Timing is Everything 

Constructive feedback is most effective when it’s given regularly. Instead of only offering it at an annual review, use it to guide ongoing performance discussions, give corrective guidance when you see something moving in the wrong direction, show appreciation when things are going right and when errors occur over and over again. Giving regular feedback at these times can change your business for the better and guide your employees toward success.