No matter what your role, level, or industry is, you will probably need to learn how to give constructive feedback at work at some point in your career. This is especially true if you are a manager, but you should also keep in mind that you may need to give feedback to your peers and team members on group projects to make sure that everyone’s contributions lead to a successful end result. But many people have trouble giving constructive feedback, and it can be hard to do so in a good way. Some of the best practices for providing helpful, considerate criticism are outlined below:
Tips for providing constructive feedback
- Define Your Terms: Providing concrete examples is an effective method of providing feedback. If you tell someone their work is lacking but don’t specify what’s missing or how it could be improved, you’ll likely get irritated responses and a lack of understanding on both sides. Once more, considering the pros and cons can help. For example: While giving constructive feedback to an employee who is chronically absent from team meetings use the following:
“I’ve observed that you have missed the last few team meetings. I wanted to inquire about the status of the situation. What do you now have on your plate? I am concerned that you are lacking vital information that will assist you in your position and career.”
- Provide timely responses: Send comments while they’re still useful. It’s best if it’s brand new. This encourages the other person to alter their behavior while it can still have an effect. The only effect is to make the worker aware of the mistake since they know their team is dissatisfied with them, but this has no bearing on their current behavior. For instance, use the following:
“Your recent sales pitch was well received, but I suggest bringing up the unique features of our product sooner next time.”
- Offer comments in person: It’s a known fact that providing criticism can be uncomfortable for both parties involved. Constructive criticism is best delivered in person rather than over email, instant messages, or the phone. Conversations that take place face-to-face are more engaging because they allow each party to ask questions and go deeper into the topics at hand. In order to gauge the other person’s reaction and address any questions they may have, it’s best to give feedback in real-time, either in person or over video chat.
- Specificity in feedback and avoiding scope creep: Don’t try to gather feedback on everything at once; pick one specific area to work on. If there is a mountain of problems that require fixing, start with the one that will have the most effective first. It’s possible to have feedback overload if you receive too much of it at once. The employee may become defensive and angry. Even in the best-case scenario, a person may remain paralyzed or go down the incorrect path because they don’t know what to fix first.
- Don’t make your feedback too personal: Provide helpful criticism of actions, not of character. It’s crucial to separate the person from their behavior while providing feedback. Don’t make sweeping generalizations about their character; instead, zero in on the specifics of the problem at hand, be it a pattern or their performance on a given project. If the other person perceives it as an assault on them, they are less likely to hear what you have to say and are more likely to withdraw their attention and cooperation. You can give feedback next time by focusing on behavior, not the person. Use the following sentence:
“In this meeting, interrupting others made it difficult to have a productive discussion. Could we practice active listening moving forward?”
- Explain the consequences of the employee’s actions: Help the staff member understand how their actions will affect you, the team, the business, and their future with the organization as a whole. When you tell your coworkers about them, it breeds an atmosphere of worry and gloom without offering any solutions.
- Step-by-step instructions and subsequent follow-up: In general, your input isn’t feedback if you can’t provide specific, concrete recommendations that will help the person improve their situation. The issue is that. Assist the individual in determining the best course of action. It’s possible that the next steps you’re given won’t be the ones you’d choose for yourself. But you could also try out what they’re doing that seems to be successful. Then, arrange to meet again in a week to discuss how things are going.
- Create Credibility: It’s crucial to build a strong foundation of trust with anyone you’ll be working with regularly, whether it’s a direct report, a manager, or a colleague if you know you’ll need to offer them feedback at some point. When you build trust early on, it sets the tone for the rest of your interactions and makes it easier for you to give feedback and for them to listen to it and follow your suggestions.
- Consider both the positive and negative aspects: Whether your feedback is positive or negative in the end, it’s crucial to give a fair assessment of the situation. If you want to give someone good, constructive feedback, you should give them something to reflect on or work on so they know there is room for improvement and they can still exceed your expectations. Give both positive and negative feedback. For example, you could say,
“I liked that you worked hard on the presentation, but to make it even better, try speaking at different speeds.”
- Give Consistent feedback: You should give constructive feedback often. How often depends on your relationship with the person you are criticizing, but including it in your regular meetings and conversations will go a long way. That way, you and your employee will have a shared understanding of what’s expected of each other, and you’ll both be more equipped to handle constructive criticism when it’s warranted.
In a nutshell
In the end, it’s important for employees’ growth and development that performance reviews include useful and constructive feedback. By following these tips and examples, managers can create a positive and productive environment for feedback, encouraging employees to strive for excellence, and helping them reach their full potential. From being specific and objective to focus on behaviors rather than personalities, these tips are designed to help managers provide feedback that is both helpful and effective. Remember, the goal is to create a culture of continuous improvement where employees are empowered to grow and succeed.