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How to Give Constructive Feedback: Best Practices for Managers

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Employees want managers to provide them feedback on how to improve their skills and performance. Feedback is so impactful that it surpasses even "higher compensation" as something employees want most from their boss. A survey by Zenger Folkman, which looked into the feedback practices of over 200,000 leaders, found that leaders who scored in the top 10 percent on giving feedback had employees who were three times more engaged than employees with leaders scoring in the bottom 10 percent. If feedback is only given annually, issues may worsen over time and it can delay opportunities for improvement and professional development. It's also important to provide constructive feedback to top performers, as not doing so could lead to higher employee turnover rates. Giving timely feedback can help employees understand their impact in the workplace and make necessary changes. Additionally, regular feedback helps everyone stay focused on a common goal, allowing for better strategy, coordination, and success. Without it, colleagues may start to drift apart, making it harder for them to reach the desired objectives. Therefore, feedback should not be avoided in order to ensure the well-being and progress of the organization. Giving feedback as a manager can be tough - you may worry about the response you will get and being poorly received, or feel uncomfortable giving criticism. When providing feedback, it should be delivered with sensitivity and respect in order to create an environment of trust and open communication. Constructive feedback can help employees grow and improve their performance, and can also help build relationships between managers and employees. It is essential that feedback is communicated in a fair, respectful, and effective way to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone involved. Here are some best practices for giving feedback.

Treat Employees With Dignity

As a manager, it is essential to understand that most employees have good intentions and would like to do a good job. Always treat employees with dignity and respect while holding them accountable for the consequences of their behavior. When dealing with performance issues, one should take into account any personal or external factors that may be affecting their performance.

Have One-on-One Opportunities

One of the best methods for providing feedback is to have a one-on-one session. This ensures that the person receiving the feedback feels comfortable and not overwhelmed by their peers. When scheduling such an appointment, make sure it's informal and encouraging to ensure they don't feel anxious or intimidated. To avoid a "gotcha" always meet with someone to discuss your feedback prior to putting any feedback in writing.

Be Clear

It is crucial to be clear and provide specific details when delivering constructive feedback so that the person receiving it can understand why certain behaviors are impacting their performance. Avoid opinions, biases, and adjectives as much as possible. Instead, focus on being objective and citing specific examples of behavior that require improvement. Provide facts and details to help illustrate the situation clearly so that the person receiving the feedback can understand what needs to be changed in order for them to improve their performance.

Don't go too far

When giving feedback, try to focus on one or two areas at a time in order to avoid overwhelming the person with too much information. Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot, suggests taking a metrics-driven approach to management, similar to how golf instructors teach their students - by adding one new skill at a time and practicing it until improvement is seen.

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Provide the person with feedback and an opportunity to give their own perspective on the matter, so that you both can work together towards finding a solution. Together, identify appropriate steps the employee can take to improve their performance, and then discuss ways in which you, as their manager, could provide assistance. Once a plan of action is established with clear objectives and milestones, both parties can work together to ensure successful results. Encourage accountability by having regular check-ins and setting measurable goals. This will help ensure the employee is on track for improvement and success. By taking a collaborative approach to improving an employee's performance, you can foster a successful working environment built on respect and trust.

Acknowledge Successes

After the meeting, be sure to follow your plan for implementing any new changes that were discussed. Formally recognize successes they may have had in implementing these changes - this will not only demonstrate your receptivity to feedback but will also show that you are willing to help them achieve their goals. These are just a few best practices, SUCCEED with TRUE-SPEAK offers more. McGrath Training Solutions offers training in the renowned SUCCEED with the TRUE-SPEAK system, giving you the tools you need to show regular appreciation to your staff and help with providing clear and constructive feedback and evaluations. Consistent and transparent communication can help motivate and retain your employees. If this is something you are looking for, do not hesitate to reach out. Contact us today to get yourself or your management staff trained and find out what SUCCEED with TRUE-SPEAK can do for you.


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