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Tips on offering constructive feedback

Remember that the goal of constructive feedback is to reinforce strengths and to help others to improve their performance. Others are more open to hearing and incorporating feedback that is delivered in a nonthreatening way.

Among the strategies to offer effective feedback would be to –

  • Prioritize your feedback. Rank the possible feedback that you may have by their importance and urgency. Focus on the issues that really matter. It’s easy to discourage employees by presenting them with a long list of everything they’ve done wrong. If you focus on the most important issues, employees will be more open to hearing what you have to say. They will also be clear about what they should work on improving.
  • Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Don’t give away the presumption that they are there to be judge. For example, instead of saying “Your performance was terrible this year” say, “Your sales numbers are down this year by 25%.”
  • Orient feedback toward problem solving and action. Give employees a chance to suggest a plan for eliminating the performance gap. For example, say, “Do you have any ideas on how you can do things differently so you can get your reports in on time?” Try as much as possible to conclude the meeting with a brief way forward for all the feedback and related issues.
  • Concentrate on the behavior, not the person. Give feedback without making assumptions about people’s underlying motives. Instead of saying, “You aren’t committed,” say, “You haven’t been attending our strategy meetings, and I’m concerned you are missing critical information.”
  • Suggest specific strategies. For example, instead of simply saying, “Your reports are missing key information,” you may also add, “Do more in-depth market research and include your findings.”

Try as much as possible to make the session as two-way communication. It’s important to understand their perspectives and to confirm that they hear the messages you are delivering.


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