Giving constructive feedback to employees can be an awkward and uncomfortable process. It’s never easy to tell someone that they’re doing something wrong or their performance isn’t up to scratch. However, it’s vital to not let awkwardness get in the way of these conversations.
Giving feedback badly can heighten discomfort for both manager and employee and cause the problem to remain unsolved. Here are our three top tips for giving great feedback that puts the employee at ease and gets results.
Tip 1: Choose The Right Time And Place
Avoid giving feedback to an employee in front of their colleagues. Receiving feedback in this way can make them feel humiliated or embarrassed. Look for a quiet, private place to deliver feedback such as a meeting room or empty office.
You should also avoid giving feedback when the employee is busy. If they’re focused on a task when you approach them, they may be too distracted to fully take the feedback on board. Plan a private meeting with them so they can set time aside for the discussion. This also helps them to know what to expect and get themselves in the right frame of mind to receive constructive criticism.
Tip 2: Give A Clear Message
The clearer you are in your feedback, the more useful it is. When you use confusing, abstract terms, the individual is left with the knowledge they’re doing something wrong but without the right information to fix it. Giving feedback can feel uncomfortable, but dancing around the topic will not resolve the problem.
Your feedback should be specific and actionable. Make it clear where the individual is going wrong and exactly how they can improve. Avoid waffle and vague terms such as “be more proactive”. Instead, consider what pro-activity looks like for that individual and their job role. Give examples involving the specific tasks they’re responsible for.
Tip 3: Check Your Feedback Has Been Understood
If the recipient of the feedback doesn’t understand your message, they won’t be able to make appropriate changes. Clarify that they understand what you’ve told them. Give them the opportunity to ask questions so they can fully understand how you’d like them to improve.
It is also useful to ask the team member to summarise back in their own words what they have understood. This will tell you, the manager, how much they have taken on board, and how much they understand. If this seems a little patronising, then simply precis the request with something like, “just so I can make sure I have communicated effectively…”, this puts the onus on you rather than them as to why you are asking them to summarise.
It can be helpful to set specific goals and targets to ensure your feedback is put into action. Choose a time to reconvene to discuss their progress. Remind them that you’re available to discuss the matter further if they need more support.
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