As a leader, giving and receiving feedback is essential to any organization for long-term success. Feedback is an integral part of all the communication required in the day-day operations of a business. Its primary goal is to create positive changes in the workplace by giving individuals detailed suggestions to improve their work habits. It specifically focuses on providing feedback that comes from a place of clear and good intentions.
While giving positive feedback is easy, it’s the constructive kind that can be harder to deliver and challenging to hear, not just when performance reviews come around.
Why is constructive feedback important?
Often, employees, especially those new to the workforce, don’t know what they are doing well and what areas could use improvement. Offering constructive feedback accomplishes two critical tasks:
- It identifies areas for improvement in the employee’s work performance.
- It provides suggestions and strategies for improvement.
Strategies for giving effective, actionable employee feedback
We’ve compiled some strategies to consider so you can avoid sparking feelings of defensiveness and ensure the recipient knows you are on their team when communicating with coworkers.
Focus on the issue. Fair, constructive criticism should always concentrate on the situation or problem caused by the person rather than focusing on the person’s character. Focus on observations rather than character judgments.
Display empathy. Be sincere with your employee; whether the feedback you’re sharing is positive or constructive, effective feedback must be earnest. Communicate how you feel if there’s a performance issue, and pay attention to your tone of voice and body language so that the person hears and feels your sincerity. Illustrate that you know they have the skills to improve and that you’re sharing the feedback because you believe in their abilities.
Be clear. Give specific examples, and don’t try to address multiple incidents simultaneously.
Give informal “live” feedback. Ideally, informal feedback should be happening regularly. Employees should have a general understanding of how they perform when they sit down for their performance review. The numbers show that employees find this communication valuable but aren’t getting enough of it.
In a recent survey by PwC, nearly 60% of respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis, which increased to 72% for employees under the age of 30. While only 30% of respondents said they receive feedback regularly, more than 75% believe feedback is valuable.
Listen. Give space and time to allow your employee to share their feelings and ideas after giving constructive criticism. It may take them a few minutes to process the feedback and formulate a response or question.
Allow them to ask follow-up questions and ways to contribute to the solution.
Recommend a solution. Once the individual has had a chance to respond, offer specific examples of the next steps they can take to solve the matter. Offer to work on a solution together.
Make it clear that you’re on the same team. This is a vulnerable space to be in with somebody else. If you approach employee feedback as a You+ them vs. the issue, it allows for a more collaborative solution. It provides the psychological safety required to create an open environment and paves the way for real change and a thriving workplace.
How to gracefully lead by example in the workplace
Actions speak louder than words.