Giving constructive feedback is one of the most important aspects of operating and growing a business. Here are five practical ways you can give constructive feedback to your employees to help them grow along with your business.
In this article:
- When Giving Constructive Feedback, Consider the Employee’s Feelings
- Constructive Feedback Must Be Timely
- Giving Feedback Must Be Regular
- Make Sure the Feedback Is Focused
- Set an Example by Encouraging Your Employees to Give Feedback, Too
Constructive Feedback: 5 Ways You Can Help Your Employees Grow
1. When Giving Constructive Feedback, Consider the Employee’s Feelings
While the message is the most important part of any form of communication, including giving corrective feedback, how you say it is important, too. Oftentimes, people reject critical feedback or constructive criticism because of the way people give it to them.
How does providing constructive feedback while being sensitive to your employees’ feelings look like?
First, consider one of the most basic human attitudes: pride. Always remember that no one wants to look bad or negative in front of other people.
Giving positive feedback to your employees in front of other people is a good way to motivate them. This will make them look good and be praised by their peers.
It’s totally different when it comes to providing constructive feedback.
Never, ever give critical feedback or criticism to your employees in front of other people. Doing so will wound their pride and make them feel embarrassed in front of others, regardless of how you do it.
If you plan to give your employees negative feedback, do it behind closed doors and blinds so no one else hears or sees you doing it.
Second, provide feedback in a respectful tone of voice and using appropriate words. Nothing else can make your employees feel like your feedback’s a personal attack than stinging words and a condescending or angry tone of voice.
Your negative feedback must focus on what your employee did or does, not who he or she is. “That’s an unwise decision.” is a criticism of the action, not the person.
Third, use the sandwich feedback principle to soften the blow of any negative criticism. It means starting the discussion with positive feedback or commendation, followed by the critical feedback, and capped off by another positive feedback or statement.
2. Constructive Feedback Must Be Timely
To maximize the intended effect of giving corrective feedback, you must give it to your employees as soon as possible. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, it maximizes your ability to give effective feedback because the details are still fresh in your mind. Also, your employee will be able to understand your constructive criticism better because the circumstances surrounding it will also be fresh in his or her mind.
The sooner you give negative feedback, the fresher the details will be in you and your employee’s minds. This will maximize your ability to give effective feedback.
Second, the sooner you provide feedback, the sooner you can address the issue or problem. Procrastination increases the risk of forgetting the issue or eroding the urgency of having to address it.
So, don’t wait until the next quarterly or semi-annual performance reviews to come around. Give constructive feedback as soon as possible.
3. Giving Feedback Must Be Regular
Regular feedback, regardless if positive or negative, can help both you and your employees get used to it. You become comfortable giving criticisms and your employees learn to view them as a means by which to grow personally and professionally.
Regular feedback to employees – if done right – can even help create a bond of trust between them and you. When this happens, your business can operate more efficiently and profitably, too.
4. Make Sure the Feedback Is Focused
The point of giving constructive criticism is to address specific areas for improvement or correction in the business. If you have no idea why you’re giving constructive criticism to your employees, you’re just playing with fire by risking offending them for no reason at all.
First, remember why you’re giving feedback to employees, which is to help them grow and perform better at work.
If the criticism isn’t work-related, don’t even try. You’ll just risk offending your employee and you may prompt him or her to quit for no good reason.
Second, be very specific about the constructive feedback you plan to give your employees.
If your feedback’s vague, your employees won’t know how to improve or what areas to work on. They’ll just be second-guessing which aspects of their work performance need improvement.
Instead of saying “Your work performance last month was poor,” you can be more specific and say something like “Your sales for the month was 10% below our agreed-upon monthly quota at the beginning of the year.”
Finally, any feedback session shouldn’t end without getting to the root cause of an issue or problem. Ask questions about how or why an issue or problem came up.
Then, ask follow-up questions to dig deeper into the real causes of the issue or problem. The more follow-up questions you ask, the more likely you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact reason or reasons for the issue or problem that needs to be addressed.
And when you finally discover the real underlying reasons for an issue or problem, you can come up with solutions. You and your employee won’t have to waste time second-guessing how to improve performance or address issues or problems.
5. Set an Example by Encouraging Your Employees to Give Feedback, Too
Most people aren’t comfortable receiving and giving negative feedback. It’s because there’s always the risk of offending people or getting offended with negative feedback.
But when people see their leaders are open to and are able to handle negative feedback and receive feedback gracefully from their subordinates, they can also learn to be comfortable with receiving and providing constructive feedback. In turn, this can help foster a healthy two-way communication culture where constructive feedback will no longer feel like a personal attack.
As the saying goes, more is caught than taught. By encouraging your employees to be open and give you constructive feedback, you’ll help them value it through your example.
When it comes to overcoming problems and issues in your business, the ability to give constructive feedback is crucial. Without it, your employees won’t be able to improve their performance at work and grow, which can also constrain your business’ growth.
How do you give constructive feedback to your employees, subordinates, or even family and friends? Let us know in the comments section below.