Many managers cringe at the mention of giving feedback to their employees—most of them are usually trained to lead teams or manage resources, not give constructive feedback. This is a serious mistake that can cost a lot in the daily operation of a company. Managers who don’t know how to provide feedback to their employees won’t be able to significantly affect the team’s output or productivity.
Spotting an employee who makes the same mistake over and over again, managers can only change this kind of behavior through constructive feedback—negative comments or threats will work only for a while and won’t motivate the employee to change their attitude. Most executives like to rely on the annual review of employee satisfactions, but what happens on other days during the year?
Here are a few tips to help you give constructive feedback that will make your team grow and become increasingly productive.
1. Know the essence of constructive feedback
Before learning how to give great feedback, you should realize why any manager would get interested in this subject at all. What are the benefits of this feedback, and who gains by it—the executive or the team? Why do we give feedback at all—to inspire an employee to correct their mistakes, or to make the team complete their tasks according to your vision?
Related Article: How to Give Performance Evaluations and Employee Feedback
The power of feedback derives from motivation. It’s a well-known fact that people go to great lengths in their work when the motivation comes from within, not from outside pressures. If employees feel that something is worth the effort, they will work extra hard to achieve it. Feedback allows you to build this kind of motivation—external motivations like the expectations of managers simply don’t have this kind of power.
2. Express a genuine intention
The key to great feedback is a genuine intention for your employees to grow—to develop personally and professionally. If your feedback doesn’t express this intention, your team will agree with you and follow your advice, but you can be sure that their hearts won’t be in it.
Expressing this intention in your feedback makes others feel important. They’re being taken care of as employees, and their executive is honestly concerned about their growth. This is something that can easily transform into a powerful motivation drive.
3. Build a relationship with your team
Trust is an essential feature in the relationship between executives and team members. Otherwise you can forget about delivering constructive feedback—not sure whether you have their best interest at heart, the team might decide not to follow your advice.
Your words and actions should show how you care about their professional growth. When it comes to giving feedback, you can be sure that employees will take your words seriously instead of thinking: “I’ll just do it so s/he never complains again.”
4. Leverage employee strengths, not weaknesses
It’s funny how feedback is often considered an action taken when something needs improving. The beauty of feedback is that is can also be about something positive. By focusing exclusively on the weaknesses of your employees, you’ll be sending a negative message and overlooking their strengths.
Try to find something that an employee is really good at and check whether this skill is transferable to the area of work which they find difficult. Encourage your team to use their strengths across different areas of the organization—it will make them feel more involved in the company life because they’ll be contributing their unique skills to reach its business goals.
5. Deliver feedback in a meaningful way
Your feedback is only as relevant as the speed with which you deliver it. It’s best to do it as soon as you make your observation—it helps employees to easily recall their behavior and analyze it from a new perspective offered in your advice.
Be specific, clear and honest. Generalizations bring more harm than good—saying “You did a great job” just isn’t enough. Valuable feedback must contain your insight about the behavior that you want to be repeated or changed. Refer to the “what” of the situation, not “who” or “why.” Avoid tones that can lead to misunderstandings—sarcasm, disappointment or frustration are off the table.
Giving constructive feedback isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Ultimately, constructive feedback is about communication—by being objective and specific, you’ll be able to deliver a meaningful feedback and significantly help your team in adopting your suggestions. The best of all—they’ll do it not because they want to please you, but because they really believe that it’s in their best interest.
Author: Torri Myler is a Team Leader at http://www.bankopening.co.uk/, an online UK bank branches opening and closing times directory. She believes in the power of New Technologies, Internet and anything digital to enable and develop businesses and individuals.