Knowing how to keep employees motivated and performing at their best is normally always on the mind of a manager. While on the other hand, employees are trying to work their way down a path of learning and development that isn't always easy to navigate.
So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that giving proper constructive feedback is something that every leader should know how to do well. Unique and more commonplace issues arise with employees on a daily basis, so you'll need to be addressing these more frequently than just at scheduled reviews.
However, it's fair to say that while giving feedback is an art you perfect over time, you can prematurely improve your approach with the right knowledge at your disposal. To help you take your leadership skills up a notch, we've created this guide that explains our approach on giving constructive feedback the right way.
Never underestimate the impact constructive feedback can have
For people that struggle in one-on-one settings, giving feedback can be daunting, but it really makes a positive impact if done correctly. Bad or unhelpful feedback can cause you far more issues than there were before, so getting yourself well organised beforehand is a real necessity.
Constructive feedback that's been well thought out will help to increase the confidence of the employee on the receiving end of it. As a result, this new-found confidence will normally help them to start working towards fixing the problem they've been dealing with.
Reprimanding an employee for something that could have been previously dealt with is always going to be construed as a failure. This is why well delivered feedback is vital to an employee's career progression and a manager's professional reputation.
How can you improve your approach to constructive feedback?
Always remain relevant and keep to the point
At some point in everyone's career, they've probably been told "to improve their performance" and been left wondering why and how. As a manager, it's important that you place the focus on the problem you're bringing to attention and offer specific feedback that can help to resolve the issue.
For example, if an employee is having problems with their timekeeping during breaks, explain how their actions are putting a burden on the rest of the team as a result of them being late. By keeping your feedback specific you'll make the issue easier to resolve for the employee in question.
Remain direct without going overboard on formality
Giving out constructive feedback is a process that's always going to have to be handled with the care and seriousness it deserves. However, this shouldn't signal you to project a tone of voice that's passive aggressive or filled with negative undertones.
Just focus on keeping your constructive feedback direct and never relay it other than in person. Communicating digitally can often lead to messages being misconstrued at the best of times, so remember that giving feedback through a phone call, email, or text could end up having misintended consequences for both parties.
Ideally, you'll want to find a room that's out of the way, quiet and without distractions. You need to keep the conversation one on one and get to the point without the proceedings being too drawn out.
Project your voice with confidence
It's absolutely vital that you project your constructive feedback with the utmost confidence. Doing anything less will take away from the significance of what you're trying to get across. However, just remember that there is a difference between a confident voice and an authoritarian one.
If you feel overly awkward, your body language and vocal tones will project how you're really feeling and compromise the effectiveness of your feedback. So, plan out what you're going to say in advance and the best way to deliver feedback on challenging topics.
It's good practice to keep your tone of voice slightly concerned without sliding into the realms of sarcasm, disappointment, or anger. The last thing you want to do is alienate an employee with direct or indirect personal attacks.
Don't overlook the value of praising employees
Constructive feedback is always going to be required for employees to achieve their full potential, especially when negative issues arise. However, handing out nothing but negative feedback without any praise to balance the scales is going to rapidly reduce employee morale.
Obviously, there's no point in praising employees for no reason at all, so make sure you spot moments where praise is deservedly due. After you've started to perfect your feedback delivery, you can think about mixing negative and positive feedback into a single conversation.
This technique is going to depend on your own skills and each individual employee's personality. If you don't think it's right to mix feedback for a certain employee, just don't do it. But, if you feel it's appropriate, start your conversation off with the positive feedback and then move on to the negative side of things. This will help to reinforce that the employee is doing well but needs to improve in certain aspects.
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