Constructive feedback is a helpful tool that employees and managers use to improve the overall standard of work. It can be hard to hear, but it’s a growth opportunity worth implementing. This article aims to offer a clear insight into constructive feedback and how it fits into the workplace.
Involving your workforce with constructive feedback can create an environment that promotes growth, stability, and support. Feedback can be given in several ways. Learn how to take negative feedback and turn it into constructive feedback.
Proper feedback has a bulls-eye effect on loyalty, performance, work ethic, and growth for all individuals and teams. Employees respond better to positive and constructive feedback than negative, making them feel under-supported and unappreciated.
Here is a complete guide on how to embrace the art of constructive feedback!
What is Constructive Feedback?
Constructive feedback is the type of feedback aimed at accomplishing a positive outcome by providing someone with comments, suggestions, or helpful advice for their work and future. It is typically guidance intended to improve, correct, or help employees recognize their weaknesses for growth in their role.
The outcome can be faster processes, enhanced behaviors, identifying weaknesses, or providing new perspectives for the workplace. It can be delivered top-down, bottom-up, or peer-to-peer and is only meant to achieve positive outcomes.
Proper constructive feedback must always be focused on the work quality rather than a personal negative attack against an individual.
The difference between criticism and constructive feedback
It’s essential to understand some critical differences between criticism and constructive feedback! Although both of them are meant to challenge your abilities and ideas. However, one of them can be perceived as more negative. Criticism is judgmental and harder to navigate. If it is mishandled, it can lead to an uncomfortable working environment.
Criticism is more of a destructive way to take someone down for their perceived faults rather than it is to improve them and help them grow. It plays an essential role in assisting people in avoiding negative behaviors and growing from their mistakes. It should be sincere and careful while also containing a level of importance.
Criticism can be too vague or too large to deal with in a day-to-day professional environment. And that’s exactly the main difference between the two forms. Good constructive feedback uses specific and concrete examples and offers a remedy to the perceived problem. For the recipient, it is more beneficial than derogatory.
Let’s look at some of the examples of constructive feedback
Let’s take a look at some good examples of constructive feedback. When preparing your productive feedback session, it’s essential to choose your words carefully. You clearly don’t want to erode someone’s dignity and make them defensive, coming off with strong accusations.
Here are some examples.
1. Feedback on communication skills
“Thank you for informing me of the project progress for XYZ. It’s allowed me to keep my superiors up-to-date with our department. Everyone is excited to see the project enter the final phase. I’m impressed by your dedication to the team, and I look forward to seeing more from you!”
“You haven’t been keeping me well-informed about your project. I don’t know what’s going on, and I’d like to see more communication from you. Can we arrange a 10-minute call every Friday with progress updates?
“Did no one teach you how to communicate? The team needs to know what’s going on. This is completely unprofessional.”
2. Lack of attention to detail
Mistakes can happen however you missed this, and it’s pretty unacceptable.
Example of constructive feedback:
I am more than happy to assemble a brief and detailed checklist of all your deliverables to ensure we don’t miss anything. We’d want to avoid some blind spots for our upcoming project. Hopefully, this works, and we can revisit this process in a month.
3. Poor time management
You were too late to this meeting this month four times a row.
Example of constructive feedback:
I noticed that you’ve been showing up late to meetings these days. I know there’s a heavier workload this quarter, but you need to be in the loop with projects. Is there anything I can support you with regarding time management?
4. Feedback about Creativity
Appropriate positive example
“You are very innovative with the way you work. The creative solutions you have shared with the team are invaluable and will save the company time and money in the future.”
“There are rules for a reason, and you should follow them. You aren’t paid to think. You’re paid to work, so keep your ideas to yourself.”
“There are rules for a reason, and you should follow them. You aren’t paid to think. You’re paid to work so keep your ideas to yourself.”
How to give constructive feedback?
When you decide that it’s time to arrange a feedback session or have a performance appraisal with an employee, there are a few things to consider to get this on point!
A well-thought feedback session can have everyone walking away feeling empowered and positive and like they have truly achieved something! Let’s look at a few tips on giving constructive feedback.
1. Choose the right time and place for feedback
The first thing you want to consider is always the location. Small bits of praise and appreciation can be shared among the wider team. On the other hand, criticism shared in front of your employee’s peers will be quite embarrassing and shameful.
Criticism is always well-delivered in a one-to-one meeting. You should consider the timing of the meeting. Giving feedback as quickly as possible while the reference points are still clear is best. Feedback is less constructive the longer you wait to arrange the meeting. As long as you feel like you can offer to provide constructive feedback?
2. Prepare beforehand and set the tone
For constructive feedback, you will need to cite concrete examples and deliver your feedback as carefully and tactfully as you can. It’s important to do your homework and know the ins and outs of the situation before you have that difficult conversation.
Since constructive feedback probably shouldn’t be delivered off the cuff, this means that you must need to plan beforehand. Gather facts and use positive and negative examples as applied, with statistics and verifiable examples to support your claims about the person’s specific behavior.
3. Emotional Intelligence is key
Going further on the previous point, emotions can run high during feedback sessions, especially when criticism is concerned. Anger and negativity can always cause you to attack the recipient unfairly, which could have consequences. It won’t make you or the recipient feel better and could bleed into the work environment.
Consider the other person as well. How is the feedback going to affect them? How can you present this information in a way that is helpful to them? This is only going to happen through emotional Intelligence!
4. Assess yourself and your involvement
Figure out the role that you play in this problem. Are you trying your best to objectively evaluate the person you will deliver feedback to? This means eliminating any chance of speaking from your personal feelings and being impartial to the impact of the task and the work itself.
Are there opportunities for you to better support and enable them so they can better succeed? If that’s the case, evaluate the matter as a team, rather than pointing fingers at one collaborator. Your feedback should be genuine and honest, and so should your offer to help.
5. Define what is the purpose of the feedback
When you arrange a meeting with your employee, the purpose of that meeting should be clearly defined. You should also share why you feel this is an important meeting. For example, the purpose of feedback is to enhance employee behavior or performance.
Then you should clearly understand what you need to discuss and what solutions you can offer. If you are unclear about the specifics, it will be harder to provide constructive feedback.
6. Brainstorm solutions to the problem
Can you guide this employee towards an answer to the problem, and if so, is it a productive answer? If the person acts on the suggestion, will they and your working relationship be better off for it? Make an effort to be there for the person, should they need you, as they work to overcome weaknesses and grow in their role.
When we have noticed and identified something concerning, our gut reaction is often to criticize without considering the existing problem and determining a solution. It is essential to offer feedback when we can, sharing actionable advice to help the person arrive at work with better solutions. Otherwise, it just turns into destructive feedback too.
7. Focus more on the work, not the person
When you give constructive feedback, you want to show the person that you are there to help, not bring them down. As you give your feedback, make sure you frame the nature of the problem in professional terms and by citing real examples.
This means avoiding mentioning personality or character traits and instead clearly explaining that this is a solvable work-related issue that you want to help them overcome. You don’t want your goodwill to be a personal attack or biased opinion.
Delivering feedback in a remote workforce
As leaders continue to work through how to best navigate virtual interactions with employees, here are a few quick things to take note of,
- Be empathetic – and always consider the unique circumstances of your employees as well. You never know what people and their families are going through.
- Always check your biases – Leaders need to be aware of how remote and in-person interactions lead to a digital divide, where those at the offices are often more favorable.
- Choose your channels wisely – Always stay away from text as it’s easy to misinterpret. Try to use the real-time, synchronous tools, so you are not the only speaker able to access body language and are available to answer any questions.
- Pay extra attention to being prompt and specific – If you cannot get ahold of an employee, always reach out for a time and connect about this task. Tie the actions back to the goals so that you can evaluate what they have truly accomplished.
Wrapping it up
Constructive feedback is truly the cornerstone of a well-rounded employee-manager relationship. Giving constructive feedback to your team members is essential to your job. Though you may be hesitant to point out areas needing improvement, people are increasingly looking for this kind of advice to help them develop and hone their professional skills.