11 Tips for Valuable and Constructive Feedback
Who likes to be blamed for mistakes? Who is willing to listen to rude speeches?
Poor feedback will only demotivate and discourage.
However, feedback is shared almost every day. We assess the work of others and evaluate team efforts. While we all know how to translate positive emotions, fewer people are used to turning negative thoughts into constructive stimuli for greater achievements.
These simple yet powerful tips will raise your communication game — helping you and all your colleagues to achieve more! Share this piece with others for them to use the same approach when giving feedback to you!
1. Focus on Work, Not Personalities
This is the main rule for all kinds of feedback. Focus on the issue, not the person who makes a mistake. Tell them what was done wrong and what results were anticipated. In most cases, work has nothing to do with character.
Of course, there are cases when attitude is the issue. Nevertheless, use the same approach and try to keep all personal comments to yourself. Focus on informing your colleague how such mistakes will affect the project or the entire business.
2. Give Timely Feedback
Sharing feedback a month, a week, or even several days later may be too late. Once other tasks are underway, the details of one of the previous tasks may not be so easy to recall.
The ideal time frame for giving feedback is 1–2 days when everything is still fresh in one’s memory.
At the same time, don’t rush into negative feedback. Let yourself cool down first; avoid speaking through emotions.
3. Be Sincere
People feel insincerity and often perceive it as a lie. If you express thoughts that you are unsure of, trust between you and your colleagues may be jeopardised.
Only say what you are completely sure of, and be mindful of your body language. Make it clear to the person, even with gestures, that it is very important to pay attention to some things in their work.
4. Be Empathic
If a person has done something wrong, they should expect consequences, which stresses them out. Don’t make the situation worse and try to understand how others feel about the situation. Depending on that, choose the tone of your speech and the pace of your gestures.
If your interlocutor is not ready for the conversation, try to arrange them for a conversation with something positive, and carefully proceed to the analysis of mistakes.
However, beware of the ‘sandwich’ approach, when you tell the good news, then come to bad news and end the discussion on a very positive note. Sure, you don’t need to slide into negative. It is better to end the conversation by approving a plan of further actions on a neutral note.
5. Be Specific
Focusing on several things at a time may dilute the significance of your message. Better dedicate one piece of feedback to one mistake.
People learn from mistakes, and as you remember, each school lesson is devoted to a different topic. So, at work, the deeper you focus on something in particular, the more it will be remembered by a colleague.
6. Be Direct but Not Too Formal
Formal conversations are great for specifying exactly what to do and what not to do. However, they are not as motivating as informal discussions. Follow your prepared plan but make room for collaboration. Do not sound like a deputy at a political meeting. Try to keep the conversation a little friendly.
Let your interlocutor speak, listen attentively to their opinion. Perhaps they will tell you why something went wrong. Their experience may uncover serious issues and inform your approach. You may even decide to achieve similar goals in a different way after the discussion. In any case, build a dialogue and be attentive to the other side of the situation.
8. Recommend Possible Solutions
Unsolicited advice can be often perceived as unhelpful; harmful even. The person should have the right to choose the way or methods for doing their job. Instead of outlining the only correct decision and pathway, suggest several options. Let the person decide what to start with and discuss their plan. This will encourage your colleague to find fresh and unusual routes, enjoying some creative freedom.
9. Provide a Summary
To rule out misunderstandings, summarise the meeting. It is better to adjust now before having to return to the discussion, correcting the same mistakes.
Take the time to convince the person that everything is actually easier than it first seemed. Motivate them through a sense of support.
10. Keep It Private
Never, under any circumstances, criticise others in public! You can praise people, but criticising is a no-go! This makes it personal and degrades the person instead of fixing the issue at hand. Criticising the individual will not remedy a fail; it will only fuel further conflict.
Email, private messages, one-to-one meetings are the best options for sharing negative feedback.
11. Follow Up
Keep the conversation going, keep improving the results! Do you have any ideas about what you can share with your colleague for them to be more successful? Send them best practices, books, recommendations (from our blog, for example :). Be interested in progress and celebrate victories. Appreciation is motivating!