The Art of Giving Constructive Feedback – 5 Tips to Remember

Whatever position you occupy in your company whether it is a manager, team leader, specialist or intern giving constructive feedback is an important element to help other people develop and improve their performance. PwC report “Millennials at work. Reshaping the workplace” shows that nearly 60% of survey respondents stated that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis – a number that increased to 72% for employees under age 30.

So why do many people struggle with giving feedback to their colleagues, team members and employees? Do we fear confrontation or maybe we don’t know exactly how to do it? If giving feedback makes you feel uncomfortable, next time stick to the tips below, that will guide you and help you shape constructive messaging.

  1. Focus on the behavior, not the character
    While giving feedback you should never attack anyone personally, but make comments on their performance and behavior. Do not discuss aspects of character, believes, values, or intelligence.

     You are shy.
    Good: You should work on your presentation skills to become more comfortable with public speaking. 
  2. Be specific
    There is nothing worse than generalization. Sentences starting with “You always…” or “You never…” should never go out of your mouth. Prepare specific examples of work or behavior that you dislike or are dissatisfied with… or maybe you would like to praise your employee for a good performance.  Being specific, will not only make you more credible but your feedback receiver will easily understand what needs to be improved.

     Good job. There were some holes but in overall it was a great performance.
    Good: Good job. Next time remember to plan some buffer for audience’s questions after each session. 
  3. Don’t compare
    Even if you are trying to make a complement with a flattering comparison to another person, it will not be appreciated. Just because you are setting that person as the standard. It is OK to compare past behavior of the individual with their present behavior, but never with someone else.

    You should try to be more like Emily, she is always punctual.
    Good: At the first quarter of the financial year you achieved your target. I can see that this quarter you are struggling. What makes achieving the numbers so challenging? 
  4. Positive-Negative-Positive Sandwich? Don’t pick it from the menu
    Many people confuse feedback with criticism – that’s wrong. Feedback can be positive and negative. It’s much more difficult to deliver negatives, but don’t try to squeeze your negative message between two positive ones to smooth out the whole comment. People will filter it out and focus only on the negative feedback in the middle. This can be demotivating. When sharing negatives try to ask questions: Is there anything I can help you with to improve? How could you work on it in the future? Try to be a guide and suggest next steps if the person is not coming up with any ideas. Create an open dialogue and let the other person have the ownership of their future actions.Bad: You are a great performer. Your diction is your weakness. Nevertheless, the audience loves you.
    Good: Your diction needs further improvement. I know a few good online tutorials that might help you work on it in your own tempo.


  5. Gather feedback on how you give feedback
    There is nothing wrong if at the end of a feedback session you ask your employee about her/his thoughts of the conversation and how you can be more helpful. Try it and you will find out that it’s actually highly appreciated.And what is your best practice on giving feedback?

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