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How to Give Constructive Feedback and Fuel Employee Growth

If you've witnessed employees lose their cool during a performance review, you may have just assumed they needed better control of their emotions. However, the issue is more often the supervisor's approach.

Many employers never learn how to give constructive feedback. As a result, workers get angry and a golden opportunity for employee development is squandered. Here are some tips for fueling workers' growth through feedback.


When to Give Constructive Feedback

There is a time and a place for constructive criticism. While offering feedback need not be a formal occasion, it should be offered in a structured setting. Many employers schedule yearly or quarterly reviews, but frequently, issues pop up that warrant immediate attention. If these situations are dealt with promptly and tactfully, it will help you develop a stronger workforce.


Talking Points for "The Talk"

Before approaching an employee, it's a good idea to develop a game plan. In order to give constructive feedback, you must open the line of communication in a non-confrontational way. Rather than making a demand, ask for a one-on-one meeting. You could say: "Do you have a minute or two to go over a few things?" The softer your tone, the more receptive your employee will be to hearing your critique.

Next, think through what you are going to say — and how you will say it. Your message will be better received if you break it down into a few easily digestible points. Since your employee may already be on edge, work hard to be less intimidating. You might say, "I'd like to make sure we are on the same page," rather than assign blame.

While there is no exact blueprint for how to give constructive feedback, there are five basic elements:

  • Be specific. Telling your employees they need to be better with customers will not do much for their development. If you say something memorable and specific, like "greet customers how you would like to be greeted at home," it's more likely your message will stick.
  • Provide concrete examples. Tell a quick story about the friendliest plumber you ever knew or the electrician who never forgot a customer's name. These anecdotes will help the employee apply your feedback while on the job.
  • Balance the negative with the positive. A negative tone has the potential to alienate. To avoid this, mix in positive feedback with any constructive criticism. For example, "While you are a very hard worker, we need you to work a little smarter, too."
  • Focus on the issue, not the individual. This is no place for personal attacks. Whatever the reason for the talk, focus on the issue at hand and not the individual. It isn't fair to compare the actions of one employee to another.
  • Outline next steps. At the conclusion of the conversation, outline a course of action that your employee can follow. Whatever recommendations you have, lay them out in simple steps that you can easily track. End the conversation by telling your employee you would like to maintain an open dialogue in order to help them grow personally and professionally.