Providing constructive feedback can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it can be a valuable learning opportunity and can help employees learn and grow. These tips will help you make sure that your feedback is actually constructive and accomplishing your desired objectives.
Don’t wait for official review time
When there is an appropriate opportunity to provide feedback, use it. If a team member misses a deadline discuss it when it happens, waiting until a review period makes the feedback less impactful and increases the likelihood that the same mistake will repeat itself. However, this doesn’t mean lashing out in the moment. When there is something that you want to offer feedback on make a note of it and bring it up in your next one-on-one or wait until you are alone with the employee and ask if they have a moment to chat. It is not appropriate to provide constructive feedback in front of other coworkers or clients.
Provide a clear explanation
Using words like “underperforming” or “unproductive” can be more damaging than helpful because they’re very broad and vague, leaving it to your employee to try to figure out what you mean. It is better to be specific and direct about areas of improvement. Providing specific feedback in real-time makes it clear what needs to change and that you’re trying to work with them to help them succeed.
Make it a conversation
After you’ve provided feedback allow for the employee to have enough time to respond to the issues that you’ve brought up. The employee may have their own feedback or ideas about how to improve the situation. Let the employee know that the door is open to discuss it further and offer up an opportunity where you could revisit the issue later, such as their next one-on-one meeting with you.
Focus on a plan of action, not emotions
While it is okay to respectfully let them know how a certain action makes you feel, that isn’t the priority. The feedback should be targeted at the performance and work being done by the employee, not the employee personally. Discuss specifically what needs improvement, what the expectations are for performance and how the employee can improve their performance. If they have barriers getting in their way strategize with them what you can do to help support the situation. For example, if you’re discussing a project deliverable that missed the mark, be specific about what your expectations were and what success looked like for that deliverable. Be thoughtful of your words and how you’re saying them, you might be frustrated with them but it isn’t productive to let your emotions drive the conversation.
Allow opportunities to demonstrate improvement
You have to allow an employee a chance to improve. If you don’t like the way someone did something, it doesn’t help anyone if your response is taking all similar projects away fearing they may mess up again. You have to give the employee a chance to be able to incorporate your feedback. Be prepared to be more active in the project to offer coaching along the way or give them smaller similar projects as a way to demonstrate their improvement.