Constructive criticism is important to learn and grow as an individual. This also applies to your work life. It’s easy to give positive feedback like, “great work!” but it can be a lot more difficult to provide constructive feedback. A lot of factors contribute to how employees respond to your feedback. Keep reading to learn how to provide feedback that your employees will actually appreciate and find constructive.
The most crucial component of being able to provide feedback that is appreciated is your company’s culture. You should start from day one to build a company culture where constructive feedback is encouraged and appreciated. You and your team should have an open line of communication and the sharing of thoughts and opinions should be encouraged.
Understand What Constructive Feedback is
Your feedback should be helpful, not blaming. Your word choice and tone can make all of the difference in how your message is received. You are giving advice on what to improve, not chastising your employee for what they did wrong or not to your liking. Take the time to properly form the ideas you want to share and make sure you avoid any “blaming statements.”
Constructive feedback is the most useful in real-time. Waiting until a week after the fact to tell an employee how to improve something is not helpful in the slightest. The sooner your feedback is provided, the sooner they can adjust how they do their work. The longer you wait, the more likely they will make the same mistakes or missteps again.
Stay on Topic
Offering up compliments can help soften up your employee before providing them feedback, however, it deters from the main message. You need them to correct their work accordingly and that is very important. That should be the main focus of the conversation. Avoid “compliment sandwiches,” which are basically two compliments with your criticism squished in-between. It helps soften delivery, but overall, this method is rather ineffective.
Be Direct and Concise
When talking with your employee, provide direct examples of how they are not working up to their full potential. For example, “You aren’t being as clear as I would like you to be in your reports.” By giving a direct example, you leave nothing vague and help answer lingering questions. Keep your phrases direct yet professional.
Offer a Path to Success
Constructive feedback is really only helpful if you offer help on how to correct it and improve. When speaking with your employee, you should always offer assistance in finding a solution. Providing personal examples of how you overcame the same hurdles can prove to be very helpful. It can also help your employees relate to you.
Feedback can be interpreted a million different ways through instant message or email. Even over the phone can be misunderstood. The best way to provide feedback to your employee is face-to-face. This way conversation can be more open and honest. This also helps create an open channel for questions and examples. When interacting in person with your employee, your tone and expressions can be more accurately interpreted by your employee as well.
Providing feedback can make even the most experienced boss feel anxious. At the end of the day, no employee is perfect. We learn new things every day regardless of how long you have been in your career. As leaders, we should not only be able to provide helpful feedback to employees but receive constructive feedback on our work as well.
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