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The Art of Giving Feedback

The Art of Giving Feedback

Employee feedback is an incredibly powerful tool. If offered properly, it has the ability to grow and develop the people of your organization, improve the levels of trust and communication, and strengthen bonds between employees and managers. But unfortunately, feedback is often ignored or omitted entirely in an effort to avoid discomfort.

Here are five tips to help managers and leaders give employee feedback that’s frequent, effective, and will help you get you the outcome you need.

Be Specific

Employee feedback should be solutions oriented, crystal clear, and to the point. If your intention is to offer corrective feedback, general comments, like “Your work needs to be improved” or “I wasn’t very impressed with those reports. You have to do better than that” can leave your employee confused and in the dark as to what aspect of their work needs to be corrected.

Be specific on what you’d like your employee to do and offer guidance on how they can apply the feedback. For example, “I noticed you were late on your last two deadlines. I’d like to work with you on your time management to ensure you’re not committing to too much and completing each of your tasks in a timely manner.”

Be Respectful

Lecturing someone on how they should improve is about as effective as talking to a brick wall. Don’t forget the important element of respect when discussing vulnerable topics, and certainly don’t talk at someone when it’s far more effective to open up the conversation and talk with them.

Let the receiver respond to your feedback and allow them to ask follow-up questions. Once the issue is clear, then you two can work together to land on a solution or course-of-action.

Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice

One big mistake many leaders make is delivering advice instead of constructive feedback. People often think it’s nicer to phrase criticisms more gently by injecting words like: should, would, ought, and try. The problem is that by using these words, your constructive feedback becomes advice. This only confuses the matter, raises the other party’s defensiveness, and pushes them in the opposite direction of great performance.

Avoid the Sandwich Approach

Helping someone improve should always be the goal of feedback but sandwiching corrective feedback between two pieces of positive feedback simply won’t soften the blow. This method creates confusion for the receiver, undermines your feedback, and can decrease levels of trust.

Although it may feel more uncomfortable for the giver, being upfront and transparent with corrective feedback sets the foundation for an authentic conversation. Focus on delivering feedback tactfully instead of beating around the bush.

Don’t Forget to Follow-Up

Evaluation is tough, and it takes a lot of thought and energy to do it properly. Instead of treating feedback conversations as a one-and-done, follow-up with your employee and show appreciation when you see improvement along the way. This will show them that you care about their success, and it can motivate them to keep up the great work.

Employee feedback is a necessary part of growth and development. These tips can help managers and leaders deliver it more effectively, which will lead to more collaborative, communicative, and higher-performing cultures.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.