Give Feedback Like A Pro

Unlock your employee’s full potential

Apoorva Rathnayake
Jan 13, 2020 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Any feedback has the potential to change a person. No matter what your line of work is, good or bad feedback can alter the direction of your career significantly.

Good feedback is important and poor feedback is necessary for the overall productivity of your venture. It is considered a normal part of any employee or co-worker’s journey to improvement and all efforts should be made to do it effectively.

The delivery of feedback is critical. We all look forward to giving and receiving favourable feedback that motivates us. If handled well though, poor feedback can just as inspiring and be just the nudge some people need.

How to give feedback like a pro:

Set a time which is good for both of you.

Avoid making appointments for feedback (particularly poor feedback) towards the end of the day or after a night shift. Feedback needs to be received in a mind-frame that can process new information.

Set up sessions earlier in the day or at the start of a shift, which allows for better delivery and absorption of feedback. It should be given one-on-one wherever possible and must endeavour to maintain confidentiality. Ensure you have no other commitments during this time to facilitate an uninterrupted session.

Prepare in advance

Brainstorm the good and poor feedback you are about to give. Examine your opinions with other colleagues if appropriate and list down specific instances where the employee has performed poorly. Being equipped with facts and a multi-disciplinary opinion derived from your team will place you in the best possible position to execute effective feedback.

Ask for their reflections first

Feedback sessions are more daunting for the person receiving them. Asking questions such as “what do you think of the work so far?” or “how are you traveling?” gives them an opportunity to highlight any concerns early. If any concerns present, this can help focus the session in a specific direction and also modify feedback early if any unexpected circumstances are present.

Start with the good, follow with the not-so-good

Remember, your feedback has the potential to change the way a person looks at their every day work. Giving feedback is a balancing act. Start with the good aspects reassures your employee that all is not bad. This reinforces the objectivity of your assessment of them and making them more receptive to any poor feedback.

Be specific and timely

Attempt to give feedback about anything unfavourable as soon as feasible.

Make sure you start with the facts without your judgement or emotion. Avoid generalisations or extrapolation.

For example:
Instead of: I feel that you are always late to work.
Do this: You arrived at work at 9 am yesterday instead of the starting time of 8 am.

Starting with facts makes feedback more reliable for both the parties involved.

Adding judgement or emotions in the first instance can make feedback appear immature, not well thought out and is less likely to be taken seriously.

Start with I, not You

You are unable to meet deadlines
You are always late to work
You are unprofessional at times

See how that is not going to fly with anyone? Generalised and/or accusatory statements generally don’t go down well. Instead, relay what you think. Follow it up with a probing question with the genuine intent to find out if there are any superimposing reasons.

Try this instead:
I notice that deadlines are not being met in your projects. Is there something we can do to help you with that?
I can see that you have come into work late. Is everything okay at home?
I have received feedback about you being rude. Are you facing challenges with specific people?

Measure against a standard, not your feeling.

Poor feedback is due to behaviour that deviates from expected standards. Use this to your advantage. Comparing the behaviour to a set standard or protocol can show your employee what to work towards as well as bringing more objectivity to the assessment. Use printed/digital material if needed such as terms and conditions of their contract, code of conduct or project plan.

It is also important to ensure you are giving feedback on your employee’s performance and not their personality.

You are a rude person.
I have received feedback about you being rude. According to the code of conduct of our organisation, the following is unacceptable……

Be clear and have non-negotiables

Behaviour such as bullying, harassment or misconduct id non-negotiable at any workplace. In these cases, it is important to be assertive and clear about why it is wrong, arrange for dispute resolution and communicate the consequences.

End with an action plan

The fundamental reason for feedback in any organisation is to help improve overall. Once poor feedback is identified, make an action plan in collaboration with your employee. Involve human resources or employee welfare officers if needed. The key is to identify underlying challenges faced by your employee so that you can engineer a work environment for them to do their best.

Ask for their feedback

Enquire openly if your employee feels the feedback process was fair, feels heard or if they have any questions. Giving feedback is a life-long process for most of us and reflecting on what could be done better benefits both you and the next person you give feedback to.

Any workplace is made up of its employees. Effective feedback instills best practice and can foster motivation and higher productivity in your employees and yourself. Its a win-win.

Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter with my best work.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Apoorva Rathnayake

Written by

Doctor/medical educator/researcher in Australia.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Apoorva Rathnayake

Written by

Doctor/medical educator/researcher in Australia.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store