Encourage positive habits with constructive feedback
Some people may use feedback as a means of sneaking in passive-aggressive insults or pointing out the person’s shortcomings. This is never acceptable in the workplace. Feedback should be used as a management tool to help employees reach their full potential and exceed the company’s expectations as well as their own. Discover the many ways you can improve your feedback by making it a positive and constructive experience.
How to give feedback correctly
1. Determine the value of constructive feedback
Quarterly or annual performance reviews are common practice among companies – but do they encourage self-improvement and proactive work habits? Constructive feedback is a basic communication tool that addresses daily activities and long-term development. Primarily focuses on recognizing successes and setting new goals, taking a solution-based approach to improvement. Companies that know how to use constructive feedback are less prone to turnover and have higher levels of job satisfaction. What positive value would constructive feedback add to your company processes and culture? Defining metrics is a good start. If you feel your company is on track to offer useful feedback to its employees, areas of improvement can be targeted more quickly and accurately.
2. Get to know your employees
Getting to know your employees is the next step. Find out how they respond to feedback and constantly work to improve your methods. It is also essential at this stage of the process to gather data about your employees’ strengths and areas for improvement. Collecting this data will allow your management to focus on a solution-specific feedback plan that will address any gaps and adapt your strategy. You can put your people first by discovering the best way to approach them in such matters to ensure their growth. Additionally, determining the right dose of praise, recognition, and calls to action that your employees respond to can help further individualize the feedback process. Some people would prefer a more incremental approach as they strive for continuous improvement, while others would like to see recognition of their achievements up front to keep them motivated. Do your research to find the right combination for each member of your team.
3. Create an action plan
The cornerstone of constructive feedback is creating solutions, not highlighting problems. Progress is not linear; there are ups and downs. Showing your employees that there is a way out of these down times through practical steps is a great way to motivate them and engage them in a proactive mindset. Additionally, constructive feedback ensures open communication by making your employees less likely to shut down during face-to-face meetings. This also lets your team know that you are there to help them navigate situations that may be difficult to handle on their own. Having an action plan in advance to build on can reduce stress and encourage creative thinking. However, in this context, creating a solution should be a team effort in which both the manager and the employee actively participate.
4. Define success
Career trajectories, personal and professional goals and aspirations differ for each employee in your company. Making the assumption that every team member wants to have a long company career is a generalization that can directly impact your management style and how you approach constructive feedback. It is important to tailor your feedback strategy to each individual employee. So at this stage, it’s important to revisit how your organization defines success and recognize how each member of your team sets their own parameters for success. Compare each list and highlight common goals; that’s the baseline you’ll need to cover as you redefine your feedback process. When both parties recognize and understand each other’s definition of success, they both know where to focus in their day-to-day responsibilities and what solutions to propose when the need arises.
5. Make it casual
Feedback can put employees off if they think someone is pointing fingers at all their shortcomings. Inconsistent or infrequent feedback sessions can exacerbate the stress some people feel when asked to face these face-to-face discussions. So make feedback part of your company culture. Incorporating feedback into the daily work routine helps to cultivate an informal environment where open, constructive dialogue is the norm. In addition, a consistent feedback system can identify problems at a much earlier stage, and having feedback as part of the company culture promotes transparency, collaboration and targeted problem solving. If feedback is no longer a core aspect of your company culture, consider starting an open-door policy to encourage fluid dialogue and make things more informal on your team.
Feedback is not something to be afraid of, but something that can help us move forward and evolve. Make sure your employees are getting the right kind of feedback. It should not pick at their weaknesses; it should celebrate their strengths and show them how to use them. Constructive feedback should also be solution-based; if you choose to point out an area that can be improved, suggest how. This is a great opportunity to practice and cultivate empathy in your company, as well as show your employees that you care about their personal development.