Performance reviews and feedback sessions are a part of working life.
Still, employees seldom look forward to them. They conjure up images of difficult conversations with your manager.
But feedback lies at the heart of the relationship between a manager and an employee. It is a vital part of an employee’s career growth.
If you are a manager, you are probably used to giving feedback to employees.
Providing an employee with positive feedback is easy enough. Complimenting someone on a job well done is a happy interaction. It bolsters an employee’s confidence and builds a supportive organizational culture.
Negative feedback, on the other hand, is a tricky area to navigate. But it’s equally essential. If people don’t discuss problem areas, they compound over time and become that much tougher to resolve.
But what happens when you identify areas of improvement for someone? This is where you need to give constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback is not a synonym for criticism. Constructive feedback is a happy balance between positive and negative feedback: it helps employees identify their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
As Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam said, “All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”
This is exactly what the purpose of constructive feedback is. Managers and team leaders should focus on building capacity in their teams. They can use constructive feedback to gently point out the areas which employees can work on.
While giving feedback to employees, make sure you don’t use it to target any one person. Make sure that you talk about both strengths and weaknesses of an employee so they don't get dejected.
How to give constructive feedback:
A feedback session can easily go wrong if the feedback is not taken in the right way by the employee. So how do you ensure that your feedback is taken in the right spirit?
You can start by being empathetic. When you are communicating feedback, remember that nobody enjoys making mistakes. A little empathy goes a long way in making the other person feel comfortable. While giving feedback, understand their problems and help them achieve your collective goal.
Use the right tone:
Don't scare an employee by angrily shouting at them. Process your rage or irritation on your own so that you can be calm during the feedback session. While giving feedback, remember that constructive feedback is meant for improvement. It shouldn't be a punishment for making mistakes. Always convey your point calmly.
Make it a dialogue:
Conversation is a two-way street. Communicating feedback means having a conversation. After you have made your point, listen to the other person. Encourage your employees to ask questions and to reach out to you. Ask them how better you can assist them, and listen carefully to their responses.
Follow up on progress:
There's more to inspiring improvement than just giving feedback to employees. You should also give them time to change. Observe them for a few days to see if they have made any progress. Follow up with them and ask if they need any more help. Feedback is not just about pointing out mistakes. Help your employees find solutions to the problems they are facing. Work on their skill-building.
Examples of giving feedback to team members:
Let us look at a few examples of giving feedback to team members.
Let's say your team has missed an important deadline because their work process was not well-defined. You observed poor communication and inefficient division of work in your team. You decide to have a feedback session and share your observations.
Or let's say a new member of your team is having trouble fitting in. You feel the team should be more welcoming and helpful to the new employee. You decide to address this in a meeting.
These are a few examples of giving feedback to team members.
Steps for giving constructive feedback:
The first thing to remember is to appreciate the things that the employee has done well. Start by talking about what went right. If you make an honest effort to appreciate the work done by the employee and the things that went well, the feedback session will start on a good note.
Now you can focus on communicating feedback about the things that can be improved. Take some time to plan your points before communicating feedback. Think of specific examples that show where the employee went wrong.
Give the employee a chance to clarify their doubts and ask questions. If they offer explanations, listen to them, but don't turn it into a debate. While providing feedback to employees, ask them if they need any help from you to make the change. Don't let them feel alone.
Harappa Education's Managing Teamwork course has helpful tools and frameworks for giving feedback constructively. AThe world-class professional faculty will share insights to help you delegate work well, give constructive feedback and manage conflicts in teams. This course will equip you to ensure the smooth functioning of your team and professional relationships in a matter of a few hours. Sign up for the course and become a master in communicating feedback to employees.
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