How to Give Employees Constructive Feedback

As managers, we intuitively know that giving and getting honest feedback is essential to growing, developing, and building successful organizations. So why is it that many of us struggle with providing feedback to our employees? Maybe it’s because there are so many ways to mess it up.

Here are some common feedback mistakes:

  • Speaking up only when things are wrong.
  • Providing generic praise without specifics or an honest underpinning.
  • Waiting to act until performance or behavior is substantially below expectations.
  • Giving negative feedback in public.
  • Criticizing performance without giving suggestions for improvement.
  • Skipping regular performance reviews.

Clearly, giving and receiving constructive feedback is a skill that must be honed.

Developing proficiency in this area is essential to building good relationships with, and motivating peak performance from, your team. To help get you started, here are four tips for providing feedback the right way:

  1. Be proactive. Nipping issues in the bud avoids messy interpersonal tangles that result from neglected communication. Regularly providing feedback conveys, “Your success is important to me, so I want to be accessible to you.”
  2. Be specific. Although giving negative feedback isn’t easy, it’s important to be as clear as possible by using specific examples to illustrate your point. Instead of saying, “Your attitude is bad,” try, “When you miss deadlines, then cross your arms and look away when I discuss it with you, it gives me the impression that you don’t care about the quality of your work. Can you help me understand this behavior better?”
  3. Develop a progress plan. Being clear about specific changes in behavior you expect in a specific period of time, and following up as scheduled makes you a better communicator and helps keep employees on track.
  4. Link employees’ performance to organizational goals. Reinforcing the value of your employees’ contributions by giving specific examples of how their work and positive behaviors serve the organization and its customers allows everyone to feel like part of the team.

We understand and appreciate the value of constructive feedback so we’d like to hear from you! Please contact us with your questions, comments, and suggestions.

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