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How to Give Constructive Feedback

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 12 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
How To Give Constructive Feedback

A Manager is often required to provide feedback, whether in a formal setting such a performance review or on informal occasions, such as during a catch-up meeting.

Feedback is very important to your staff. If provided in a constructive manner, feedback can give them direction and help improve their performance. If however, feedback isn’t constructive, it can de-motivate a person and negatively impact their performance.

So, how can a Manager give better, more constructive feedback?

Stick to the Facts, Don’t make it Personal!

Explain what the person has done incorrectly, or what they could do better. It isn’t about personalities. It isn’t about whether you like the person or not. It’s about how well they do their job and how they can improve their performance. Always offer some positive aspects and well as negative

Research Before you React

You may have only heard one side of the story. Clarify your information and give the person a chance to provide their viewpoints, before making a decision.

Avoid Knee-jerk Reactions

People make mistakes and it isn’t helpful if a manager gets angry or looses their temper. Remain calm and explain what went wrong. Sometimes it is best to address a situation after people have cooled down.

Empathise

Put yourself in the other person’s position. Remember how it felt to receive unwelcome feedback and consider instances where feedback has helped you. What was helpful and how can you replicate such behaviour?

Focus on the Right Behaviour

We’ve explained the wrong behaviour and what we don’t want to see, but it’s also important to explain what we do want to see. Sometimes staff need help to understand what is required of them. Provide examples.

Inappropriate is Inappropriate

If someone has behaved inappropriately it needs to be addressed immediately, and they need to be told what was wrong. Don’t be vague or down play it’s significance. Make it clear that such behaviour is not tolerated.

Be Specific

Vague feedback, such as ‘you’re unhelpful to your colleagues’, could be interpreted in a number of different ways. Be specific and say what exactly about the person’s behaviour with their colleagues is unhelpful. Give examples – perhaps they don’t answer their colleagues telephones when they are away from their desks. Such examples will help quickly rectify the situation in the future.

Encourage Participation

Perhaps they have suggestions on what would be more appropriate behaviour. Have a discussion with them: What do you think might help this situation? Do they need further training? Are there other factors affecting their performance?

Give the person an opportunity to respond. You may have misunderstood the situation. You might have made a mistake. Be prepared to be wrong.

Get the Timing Right

There are good times to give feedback and bad times. If the person has had a hard day, back to back meetings with tough clients, a mountain of work on their desk, it may not be the best time to have a useful feedback session.

In Conclusion

Feedback is designed to help people. It should not involve personal criticism, and if delivered appropriately, should be received as a way to improve performance. Be positive and help the person realise their strengths and abilities. Focus on areas for improvement rather than bad performance; except in the exceptional situation where the performance is so poor that more stringent action is necessary.

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