Constructive feedback is essential to help us grow and develop in our personal and professional lives. But when you’re the person delivering the criticism, it can all go terribly wrong if you’re not careful.
You could end up demotivating the person on the receiving end and making them feel worse than they did before. And you don’t want to force your team members to quit their jobs now, do you?
In order to help you provide constructive feedback effectively – whether it’s during a performance review or due to recent happenings – the following 10 examples can be catered to any scenario you might find yourself in.
1. Solution-Based Feedback
It’s all good and well to tell people that they aren’t doing a good job, but are you actually providing solutions to the problem – or are you simply just slamming them down?
If it’s that latter, you’re offering no real substance to your criticism, and you’re most definitely knocking your employee’s confidence.
If someone in your company has written a poor response to a very important client, for example, don’t simply tell them it wasn’t good enough. Instead, provide solid advice that will help them avoid making the same mistake again in the future:
‘Despite your efforts, this response does need some reworking. You should make sure there is a friendlier tone and that you provide detailed explanations as to why we can’t offer a premium dining experience. What you have written is vague. Do put something together and send it to me so we can go through it together before you forward it to the client.’
2. Job Performance Feedback
Performance feedback is one of the most important topics to discuss with an employee. This is where you can really motivate your workers to achieve more or to let them know that they are not meeting every expectation.
Let’s say that an employee isn’t meeting their targets for the month. Instead of using a scare tactic like: ‘If you don’t meet next month’s targets, you’re going to get fired’ (which will only p*ss them off), say something like: ‘I can see you’re not reaching your targets. Is there a reason why? Would you like any further training sessions to go over something that you might have missed?’
By showing your team member that you’re genuinely interested in their progression, they will be more inclined to work harder and do better than they did before.
3. Encouraging Feedback
Encouraging comments can give employees a good boost of confidence and it can lift team morale. If you feel like someone is doing a good job, don’t wait until their review to let them know. Instead, do it when it’s fresh in your mind so your employee knows that they are appreciated.
If a team member took initiative and lead an entire project, for example, you could say something like: ‘I’m really impressed with the way you led XYZ project – the job roles you delegated to everyone were accurate and made good use of everyone’s skills. Keep up the good work!’
4. Behavioural Feedback
When an employee starts acting up and generally has a bad attitude, they need to be told about it. However, the way you deliver this information is crucial – you don’t want them to get their backs up and become even more defensive. What you do want to do is try and defuse the bad behaviour.
Let’s say you noticed your team member snapping at a client. It’s, of course, unacceptable, but shouting at them isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Instead, try using this approach: ‘I noticed you snapped at a client the other day. Although it can be really difficult when you’re dealing with an angry client, you need to remember that the client always comes first. Should we set up a meeting where we can go through different scenarios you may face so you’re better equipped on how to handle them next time?’
5. Feedback to Entire Team
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the situation than the people that are involved. In cases like this, you should address your constructive criticism to the whole team (without pointing fingers) and show how the actions have affected the whole team.
Let’s say, for example, a few team members have been late in completing their part of a project, and as a result has delayed the overall outcome. Perhaps everyone has been working on a spreadsheet, updating contacting information for certain services before the season begins. But, because a few employees haven’t done their part, the season’s already started and you still don’t have the right information to make everyone’s workloads a little easier.
In this instance, you should express the situation to the entire team and explain where the problem is and how, if everyone worked together, they could have achieved better results.
6. Career Feedback
Constructive feedback doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. If your employee is doing a good job, be sure to point out their positives and how they should continue to grow and develop.
If Jane has been doing a great job at helping new starters, for example, you could say something like: ‘Jane, I can see great leadership skills in you – you’ve set time aside to train and assist new starters when you didn’t have to. Have you ever considered moving into a more senior position?’
7. Skill-Related Feedback
Nobody is perfect and we all have areas in which we can improve throughout our careers. However, there are times when employees may not recognise this, and you may have to point this out to them. Of course, this doesn’t mean pointing out their flaws but, rather, showing them how you’re willing to help them grow.
If an employee lacks attention to detail, for example, and makes careless mistakes on a regular basis, do bring it to their attention in a non-threatening way. You could try saying: ‘I’m really impressed with how quickly you’re working through client requests and responding to emails. However, there are quite a few going out with careless typos – can you please spend a little extra time proofreading to make sure nothing gets overlooked?’
8. Reputational Feedback
Have you noticed an employee is starting to build a reputation as a slacker for themselves in the office? If so, you need to call them out, but be careful as you’ll essentially be walking on eggshells when you do this.
For example, you could say: ‘I’ve noticed that it’s taking you a lot longer to get through your bookings recently. Is there a reason why it’s taking you longer? We should meet every morning to go through your to-do list to make sure you’re prioritising and managing your time properly. I really feel like a few tweaks will help.’
9. Personal Feedback
If you suspect that an employee is experiencing a personal issue that is affecting their work, you will need to discuss it with them in private. Make sure you approach the subject carefully, as you wouldn’t want to pry into anyone’s life outside of the office.
Let’s say Jane has been scatty and careless over a certain period of time – you could ask to have a private chat: ‘Jane, I’ve noticed that you haven’t been yourself recently and I’ve seen the effect through your work. You’ve made a few careless errors and missed an important deadline yesterday. If there is something going on in your personal life, I understand it’s none of my business, but is there anything I can do that will help at work?’
10. Feedback from Others
If you’ve received feedback from a number of different sources about a specific employee, the rumours may be true and it’s best to confront them in a non-threatening way.
For example, if Jane has been abrupt with other team members, you can approach the situation by saying something like: ‘I’ve received feedback from others that you’re being really abrupt when anyone asks you a question. Can you explain if there’s a reason behind it and what it might be?’
These scenarios are just general examples of approaching difficult topics with your employees. Hopefully, you and your HR department can relate to them and can learn how to offer feedback in a constructive and effective manner.
Have you ever dealt with a really tricky situation where you needed to deliver feedback in the workplace? If so, let us know what it was and how you did it in the comments section below…