Delivering constructive feedback should be part of your daily routine as a leader. If it’s not, therein lies part of the problem. More than 50 percent of performance problems are a result of lack of feedback. If your employees don’t know what they’re doing right, what they could improve, and what is expected, how can you expect their best work? But not just any feedback is beneficial; it needs to be constructive and help employees to grow. If it is not and knocks them down instead, this can be counterproductive.
As you consider your interactions, which category do you fall under?
Constructive Feedback Is …
- S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound
Don’t just give feedback for the sake of saying something. Make it count. Identify specific things that the person is doing well or can realistically improve upon. Have measurable objectives to gauge progress and target standards. Set a reasonable timeframe in which they should be able to show their success. It is easier to guide someone to excel if they have a framework and know exactly where they are headed.
How many times have you talked to someone and soon after forgotten part of what they said because you didn’t write it down? If there have been misunderstandings, encourage employees to take notes about the situation and changes for the future. This gives them something to refer back to and also holds them more accountable. When sending emails regarding specific work, focus on what the employee should do as opposed to what they shouldn’t do. Pay attention to your tone and the impression that it conveys. If you think there may be some confusion, try to talk to them in person or via phone. Remember that you can praise publicly but you should criticize privately.
Rather than only speaking up when something is going wrong, jump on the opportunity to praise others when things are going well. Too often employees are used to only hearing from leaders when there is trouble. Let them know that their hard work is not being overlooked and you do notice and appreciate what they are doing. Make it a point to regularly interact with your team and be available for guidance.
Constructive Feedback Is Not…
While some feedback is better than no feedback, you want to make what you say count. Telling someone that they’re doing a great job holds little meaning and can sound impersonal and generic. Praise employees for specific actions or accomplishments and make it genuine. If there is something that they need to improve upon, be honest yet frame it in a way that is structured to help them succeed. Give realistic recommendations that they can act upon and which are practical.
Separate the person from the situation. Your feedback should not revolve around personal characteristics or traits of the employee that can come off as seeming like an attack on who they are. Focus on behavior and actions that can be changed. This could be something along the lines of, “the report was disorganized” rather than saying the person is disorganized. Incorporate objective points based on the observable instead of subjective points which are often up for interpretation.
- Assuming understanding
Instead of assuming that your message is clear and everyone is on the same page, double check to verify that each person knows what is expected of them. Address any questions or misunderstandings to provide clear direction and resolve confusion. When directions are left up to interpretation, this can negatively impact productivity and work quality. Your vision may not necessarily align with the employee’s, so clarity is essential.
Set your team up for success by giving them constructive feedback that they can use. Boost motivation and performance through recognizing the positives so that recommendations for improvement are better received. To find out how you can improve your feedback process, contact JP Kantor Consulting today. With a wealth of professional services, we can help you to excel as a leader and enhance performance and productivity in your business.