Offering Constructive Feedback - how and why

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  Published on Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Offering Constructive Feedback - how and why

Library Home  >  Leadership & Service Management
  Published on Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Providing ongoing feedback to employees is an easy and effective way to drive constant improvement in your service. Feedback can happen via the formal performance review process, which offers an opportunity to discuss professional development and career planning, as well as via regular less formal updates.

Constructive feedback is an effective and fast way to boost engagement and productivity levels in staff and is the easiest way to address small issues before they grow into large problems.

Positive feedback includes one-on-one praise for a job well done, comments on a particular action you noticed and appreciated and/or public acknowledgement of an employee who went above and beyond their job description.

Constructive feedback is helpful advice offered to employees to make it easier for them to do their job more successfully. The key with constructive feedback is to ensure you offer your thoughts quickly and in a positive fashion to avoid staff members becoming upset or defensive.

The Balance Careers offers these very helpful tips for managers and directors seeking strategies for providing effective feedback to staff:

1. Make sure your feedback is targeted

Effective employee feedback must be specific, not general. One purpose of effective, constructive feedback is to let the individual know the specific behaviour you'd like to see more of from them. Focusing on the details gives them an easy course of action to follow and is more likely to result in productive and effective behaviour in the longer term. General feedback, like a pat on the back, makes the employee feel good momentarily but doesn't do a good job of reinforcing the behaviour.

2. Focus on a specific behaviour

Useful feedback always focuses on a specific behaviour, not on a person or their intentions. Focus on describing how their actions caused a certain outcome and how that outcome was positive or negative depending on the circumstances.

3. Be honest

The best feedback is sincerely and honestly provided to help. Most people have internal radar that can easily detect insincerity. Keep this in mind when you offer feedback.

4. Offer an improvement plan

Successful feedback describes actions or behaviour that the individual can do something about. If you can, provide any tools, training, time, or support that the person needs to successfully perform as you need her to perform.

5. Ask before you offer

Whenever possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful. Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, "I'd like to give you some feedback, is that okay with you?" This gives the recipient some control over the situation, which is preferable to launching straight in.

6. Ask for feedback

When you share information and specific observations, you are providing feedback that an employee might use. It does not include advice unless you have permission or advice was requested. Ask the employee what they might do differently as a result of hearing the feedback. You are more likely to help the employee change their approach, than if you tell the employee what to do or how to change.

7. Make it timely

Whether the feedback is positive or constructive, provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible. Effective feedback is well timed so that the employee can easily connect the feedback with his actions.

8. Focus on what can be done not why something was done

Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why. Asking why is asking people about their motivation and that provokes defensiveness. Ask, "What happened?", "How did that happen?", “How can you prevent that outcome in the future?", "How can I have done a better job of helping you?" or "What do you need from me in the future?"

9. Check in

Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop, such as asking a question or observing changed behaviour. Set a time to get back together to discuss whether the feedback changed performance and whether any additional actions are needed.

10. Be as consistent as possible

Successful feedback is as consistent as possible. If the actions are great today, they're great tomorrow and conversely if the action is poor it is always poor, no matter what the circumstances.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2020