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Giving Constructive Feedback

What is the most difficult part of giving constructive feedback?  Delivering it so that the recipient actually hears, understands and acts on the feedback.

There are three key techniques to enable someone to hear and act on your feedback:

1) Create a safe atmosphere. Set a professional tone and explain that you have a positive intention for providing the employee with your feedback. Let them know you respect them and are invested in their success.  Also, be sure the timing for giving your feedback is good.

2) Be direct and don’t pull your punches. Just like when a limp handshake makes a weak impression, your feedback needs to be delivered with a direct and firm tone so it leaves a strong impression.

3) Be specific and actionable. Effective feedback must include examples so the receiver can relate to a specific previous incident and its negative consequences.  However, it also means focusing on behaviors.  The best way I know to give behavioral feedback is in the form of “more of” and “less of.”  For example, the statement, “I need you to treat customers better,” is too vague.  An employee will much more quickly adjust if you tell them, “I need you to spend less time working on special projects and more time talking with customers about the issues that need to be resolved together.”

Following these three tips will go a long way to driving up employee performance and engagement.  Employees want their manager’s support and most will respond very favorable to well delivered constructive feedback.

  • About The Author

    Kelly Ferguson

    Kelly has spent 25 years as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing leader, OD manager, senior OD consultant, program manager, leadership coach, process improvement facilitator, and strategic planner. In addition, she specializes in the development of visual management tools, systems and implementation. She has over 15 years in relationship-based sales (services and products) successfully closing and implementing large-scale projects at companies including Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks Coffee Co., Nordstrom, Standard Financial Group, Coinstar and REI. Kelly is known for her ability to combine solutions based on process, people, structure and systems. Her “OD approach” drives business results, employee engagement and ultimately a high-quality customer experience. As a leader, Kelly is recognized for her drive to grow companies from start-ups to large enterprises by focusing on top-line growth, the introduction of innovative products and services, sales and marketing, and ...Read Full
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