How to provide constructive feedback to your employees?

by Kylee Stone Jan 24,2022

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Providing constructive feedback to your employees is an essential aspect of performance management. After all, if you don’t tell your employees what they’re doing wrong, how will they know what to improve? At the same time, you also have to make sure that your feedback is constructive. If your feedback isn’t constructive, it could demotivate employees and make them feel unappreciated, so it’s important to provide appropriate feedback. Don’t sweat it if you’re not sure how to do this; follow our in-depth guide on employee constructive feedback. 

What is constructive feedback?

In simple terms, constructive feedback is when you identify an employee’s specific weaknesses and provide them with practical solutions to address those weaknesses. Constructive feedback is given to assist employees and correct their problems, not punish or lecture them. Constructive feedback is a supportive communication tool. 

Also read: 10 Best Employee Feedback Tools To Track Performance

The opposite of constructive feedback is destructive feedback. Destructive feedback is when you insult and ridicule an employee for their shortcomings without providing any information they could use to improve themselves. Destructive feedback is never done with good intentions; it only causes harm to employees and results in deteriorating workplace relationships. 

Constructive feedback, when done correctly, will improve workplace relationships and help employees address their problems. Destructive feedback only causes further problems, so you want to make sure you only provide constructive feedback to your employees to maximize productivity. 

Benefits of constructive feedback

Providing constructive feedback will not only avoid all the problems caused by destructive feedback, but there are also numerous individual and organizational-level benefits of constructive feedback. 

Improves morale

Giving constructive feedback to employees lets them know they’ve made progress, even if their current performance isn’t perfect. Just knowing that the company they work for recognizes their improvements, no matter how small, boosts employee morale.

Improved morale is decisive for consolidating company loyalty and encouraging increasing productivity. People work better when they feel they’re being taken care of, and constructive feedback helps engagement. 

Some studies indicate that companies that routinely provide constructive feedback have a 14.9% lower employee turnover rate than companies that don’t, which saves a lot of time and energy. 

Improved learning 

No matter what level your employees are at, there will always be new things to learn and areas to improve. Ideally, you want to facilitate and encourage as much learning as possible. Providing constructive feedback is one of the best ways to achieve this. The more detailed information you can provide to your employees, the better they can improve their work. 

Entry-level candidates, especially, benefit from constructive feedback provided by experienced managers. Entry-level candidates are also least likely to understand their overall work performance or recognize how to improve themselves due to their lack of experience. 

One survey revealed that 40% of workers are actively disengaged from their company when they’re not provided with any feedback from their employees. Disengaged employees have decreased productivity and higher turnover rates, so giving good constructive feedback has long-term productivity benefits for your company. 

Also Read: 5 Tips For Building A Learning Culture In An Organization

Contributes to a positive corporate culture

Providing constructive feedback helps create a positive and productive work culture where employees don’t feel alienated. By giving constructive feedback, your employees are encouraged to work better. When even a single employee decides to work better, it strongly affects their colleagues. 

Suppose everyone in a company is focused on improving their productivity. In that case, it creates a positive work environment where employees share mutual respect and concern. Employees also find it easier to collaborate more effectively and develop better comradery. 

The improvements in your company’s work culture directly impact your company’s productivity and profitability. When your employees work better and uplift one another, they produce better results for them and you. 

Clarifies expectations

One of the worst things for employees is unclear about expectations. Your employees should know precisely what’s expected of them and how they should complete their jobs. The lack of clarity contributes to workplace anxiety, miscommunication, and productivity loss. 

By providing constructive feedback, your employees will clearly understand how they need to do their work. When provided with this sense of direction, people can automatically adjust their performance accordingly. 

Improves leadership

Managers who provide the best constructive feedback will be perceived as vastly better leaders than those who don’t. A manager willing to provide constructive feedback helps them improve their performance. Through good employee constructive feedback, employees also experience a greater sense of community and belonging in your company, boosting their willingness to invest effort. 

Also Read: 8 Simple Tips To Demonstrate Leadership In The Workplace

How to give constructive feedback?

Now that we’ve covered why you need to give the best constructive feedback, we’ll explain how to do it. 

Establish trust

You need to establish an open and trusting relationship with your employees so that they respect your opinions. Your employees need to feel that you intend to help them, not hurt them. When your employees share this level of trust with you, they will be more willing to listen to your feedback and regard it as valuable. 

Balance positive and negative feedback 

It’s crucial to balance your positive and negative feedback to balance your advice. When your direction is balanced, your employees feel that your feedback is genuine. 

When your feedback balances between positive and negative aspects, your employees learn what their problems are and how to correct them and receive encouragement. 

To have a balance, you need to provide as much positive encouragement as you do critical information. You want to paint a realistic picture of your employee’s performance, one that simultaneously recognizes their achievements but also highlights their problems. 

Observe, don’t interpret

The best constructive feedback is objective and quantifiable. So use as much statistical data as possible instead of relying on qualitative judgments. Also, let your employees offer their explanations and personal opinions on their performance. Doing so will allow your employees to feel a part of the process. You’ll also obtain a better understanding of their perspectives, which will make it easier, in turn, for you to give feedback. 

Also Read: 10 Reasons To Use Goal Setting Software

Be specific

Focusing on specific information is the most effective way to provide good feedback. Try to zoom in on as many particular issues as possible so that your employees have a concrete understanding of what they need to do. 

Focusing on specific problems allows your employees to understand better what they need to do. If you provide your employees with vague or generalized information, they might become confused or misunderstand what you’re communicating. 

For instance, you might want to inform an employee that their presentation skills are weak. The most effective way to do this would be to tell them of specific problems with their presentation skills, such as constant stammering, foul body language, too fast, etc. 

Don’t make it personal

The best constructive feedback focuses on an employee’s actions, not their character. You need to direct your criticism to your employee’s activities and how they can improve them. Don’t make personal attacks like telling an employee that they’re lazy. Instead, inform them that they have declining productivity and you’d like to help them fix that problem. 

Be timely and regular with your feedback

The best constructive feedback is provided on a timely and regular basis. Providing regular feedback helps your employees understand their performance in a given time. Predictably timed feedback session periods also make giving feedback a more systematic process, so create a regular schedule. 

How not to give feedback

Alongside knowing what to do, you would also benefit from knowing what not to do. 

Don’t deliver reactionary feedback, plan what you want to say

Plan employee feedback sessions carefully. Note down all the feedback you want to provide an employee before conducting their feedback meeting. Also, don’t randomly throw in information and complaints during a feedback session that you hadn’t planned to share before. 

One of the worst things for an employee during a feedback session is to be bombarded with a barrage of vague complaints. Random vague complaints are not conducive to productivity because they’ll always perceive them as hostile. 

Don’t talk too much, make it a conversation

Feedback sessions aren’t monologues. Don’t make the mistake of just throwing large amounts of information at your employees. Employee feedback sessions should be two-way. You need to give your employees enough opportunity to speak to you. Doing so will help management simultaneously develop a more accurate understanding of their employees’ perspectives. 

Also Read: Crucial Conversations To Strengthen Relationships

Don’t make it about you, make it about their goals

One of the biggest mistakes that most managers make during a feedback session is to phrase the session around company profits and how the employees need to do more for the company. Unless they own stock in the company they work for, the odds are the average employee doesn’t care what happens to the company unless it affects them. 

So focus your feedback on how your employee can improve their job and do better. People like knowing how they can improve for themselves instead of how it will help management secure a bigger bonus. Employees react better when they feel your feedback is oriented around helping them perform better.

Also Read: 6 Traits Of High Performing Teams

In conclusion, providing constructive feedback to your employees is vital if you want their performance to improve. The importance of constructive criticism derives from the fact that it’s unlikely your employees will know how to improve productivity without it, but you have to provide criticism carefully. If you provide destructive criticism, your employees will take it as a personal attack, and they’ll end up leaving your company. The best way to provide constructive feedback is to balance positive and negative aspects of performance, provide objective feedback, and give employees the chance to speak back.

Engagedly can make the feedback sharing process easy for you, want to know how? Request us for a quick demo!

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Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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