Knowing how to give your employees constructive feedback is an incredibly valuable skill to have. If you have the knowledge of knowing how to give feedback properly you have the potential to your employee the ability to grow and develop the people of your organization, improve the levels of trust and communication, and strengthen bonds between employees and managers.
However, in many cases unfortunately the feedback is often ignored or omitted entirely in an effort to avoid uncomfortable situations with your employees.
Here are some tips to help managers and leaders give employee feedback that’s frequent, effective, and will help you get you the outcome you need.
Be Specific About the Feedback You Are Giving
Employee feedback should be solutions focused, crystal clear, and straight to the point. If your intention is to offer corrective feedback, general comments, like “Your work needs to be improved” or “I wasn’t very impressed with those reports. You have to do better than that” can leave your employee confused and in the dark as to what aspect of their work needs to be corrected.
Be very clear on what you’d like your employee to do and offer guidance on how they can apply the feedback. For example, “I noticed you were late on your last two deadlines. I’d like to work with you on your time management to ensure you’re not committing to too much and completing each of your tasks in a timely manner.”
Offer Your Feedback Whilst Coming From A Place of Empathy
Delivering feedback that exposes a wide gap in self-knowledge demands an extra measure of sensitivity. In a similar fashion to ripping off a scab, the sting of discovering such a profound gap often elicits strong emotions that can easily be confused as defensiveness. If you are the type of person who is fed up with an employee’s behaviour be sure you can set those frustrations aside in favour of the empathy so that when you have a difficult conversation with this employee, they don’t get the impression that you are trying to attack them and are genuinely trying to help them improve and succeed. Before you even approach your colleague, be prepared to give them the space they’ll need to feel shocked upon receiving your feedback. Remember not to interpret their reaction as intensified resistance to your message.
Talk About the Solution Not the Individual
Constructive feedback is by its nature focused on outcomes and impartial observations as opposed to focusing on the employee’s personal attributes. Feedback centred on the individual could be taken as an attack motivated by personal feelings, rather than objective facts.
By discussing the situation itself, rather than your personal opinion about it, you’re showing that you’re most concerned about fixing the problem at hand and not criticising the employee’s own personality.
Keep Your Feedback Private
For many employees, even praise is better delivered in a private meeting. Some people simply don’t like being the centre of attention. You can also consider offering employee feedback in the form of a written response. This can give you time to reflect and offer a more thoughtful answer.
Feedback isn’t just uncomfortable for the receiver; it can be uncomfortable for the giver as well. By moving the location to a more informal area, you can help to alleviate some of the underlying pressure.
Listen To Your Employees Concerns
When you are giving an employee constructive feedback, make sure your employee is given a chance to respond. It should be a conversation between you both. This shows that you’re prepared to listen to their concerns and their interpretation of events. It’s also an opportunity for the employee to express their ideas to you and become part of the solution.
Give Your Employees Praise When It Is Deserved
Giving your employees positive feedback and acknowledging positives among negatives can be a great way to reassure them that you haven’t lost perspective.
For example, “I think you did a fantastic job with this account because sales are up 13 percent since last quarter. But we’ve had a few customers tell us that response times have increased”.
This tells the employee that you're not criticising their overall performance; just that certain aspects of their job need attention. However, it is important to make sure that you don’t over-emphasise the positives, as this can make you appear insincere or unsure of yourself.