How to Give Constructive Feedback to Your Employees

Like it or not, praising and criticizing employees comes with the territory of any leadership position.

And the importance of those conversations really can’t be overstated.

Why? Because modern employees thrive on meaningful, constructive feedback.

Constructive Feedback

Sure, it’s easier than ever to shoot over a “great job” email or give workers a quick thumbs-up via Slack.

However, feedback that actually has a positive impact on an employee’s performance requires a conscious effort on your part.

For the sake of productivity and a healthy company culture, managers must understand the importance of constructive feedback and how to effectively convey it to their teams.

Why Does Constructive Feedback Matter So Much?

Hey, fair question.

Constructive feedback might not seem like a high priority at a glance. It might not seem particularly complicated, either.

The reality, though? Most managers are getting it wrong.

According to research by Gallup, the majority of employees receive minimal meaningful feedback from their managers.

Whether it’s too vague or infrequent, poor feedback results in disengaged employees and high turnover rates in the workplace.

In fact, 24% of workers would consider leaving their jobs if their higher-ups provided inadequate feedback.

This makes perfect sense, though. If a worker doesn’t feel they’re getting adequate recognition or praise, they may feel more valued elsewhere.

On the flip side, a struggling employee can’t correct their behavior unless they know what they’re doing wrong.

Consistent and constructive feedback is key to avoiding these setbacks. That’s exactly why managers should rethink their approach to communicating praise and criticism to their teams.

5 Tips for Providing Constructive Feedback to Employees

Let’s say you acknowledge your approach to feedback might need some fine-tuning.

Trust us: you’re not alone.

To ensure that you’re getting the right message across, keep these tips in mind.

1. Frame Your Feedback as a Net Positive

Despite popular belief, managers don’t need to tiptoe around criticizing their employees.

Food for thought: 92% of employees agree that negative feedbackcan actually encourage them to improve their performance.

The catch? That feedback needs to be framed the right way.

Playing “bad cop” and berating your employees isn’t going to do you any favors. On the flip side, being too friendly or cheery might send mixed signals to your workers. Remember: if your employees need to make a change, you need to be explicit about it for their sake and your own.

Below are some examples of how legitimate criticism can be framed as positive, constructive feedback.

 Positive Framing

 Negative Framing

 ● “I’d really like to see you…”

 ● “I think you’re off to a good start. However, I definitely think there’s room for improvement…”

 ● “Listen: you’re part of this team and we appreciate your effort. That said, I’ve noticed that…”

 ● “I really need you to…”

 ● “To be honest, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to do here…”

 ● “You’re not pulling your weight around here compared to the rest of the team….”

The takeaway here is that feedback should be framed as goal-setting that’s going to benefit your employee as well as your company at large. Considering that 70% of workers note that they’d work harder if their efforts were recognized, positivity definitely makes a difference.

Feedback Tips

2. Provide Context to Your Feedback (Be Specific!)

Vague feedback doesn’t do your employees any favors.

Especially when making critical comments to someone on your team, you need to provide context to what needs improvement and why you’re having a conversation in the first place.

Critical Example: “I’m concerned about the amount of missed deadlines from last month. I want to figure out what we can do to get things back on track.”

Praise Example: “Based on our data from last quarter and current sales quotas, you’re totally knocking it out of the park.”

The good news? It’s easier than ever to track performance and find talking points for performance reviews and feedback sessions. This includes data from your CRM or team management tools such as Monday.

Given that only 60% of workers understand what’s expected of them at work, it’s crucial to regularly review employee data and highlight expectations so nobody’s ever blindsided during a feedback session.

3. Don’t Bog Your Employees Down with Comments (Hint: Be Brief!)

No surprises here.

Try to keep your conversations regarding feedback short and to-the-point.

Because conventional wisdom tells us that shorter meetings are more effective for retaining information and conveying goals face-to-face.

This isn’t to be cold or impersonal, but rather make sure that your conversation doesn’t stray too far from the feedback that you’re trying to get across. Doing so will give your workers a single goal to focus on rather than a daunting list of tasks.

There’s nothing wrong with being straightforward (“This is what I need you to work on…”) as long as you’re keeping your overall conversation positive.

4. Mind the Timing of Your Feedback

There’s a big difference between a passing “good job” and meaningful, constructive feedback.

The former can be done at random in a matter of seconds.

But for the latter, your employees should be prepared and expecting feedback in advance.

For starters, planning a feedback session in advance makes employees more accountable for listening. Not only that, but they’ll have an opportunity to prepare their own points and review their data before speaking with you.

Trust us: your employees will appreciate a courtesy head’s up rather than a surprise meeting.

On a related note, try to give your employees feedback on a consistent, frequent basis so they become more familiar and comfortable with you and your leadership style.

Many companies strive to provide employees with monthly feedback versus quarterly performance reviews. More frequent feedback means more meetings, but it also means that problems among your employees are less likely to snowball out of control.

5. Be Open to Feedback Yourself

Lastly, it’s important to understand the concept of listening as a leadership tool.

Giving your workers an opportunity to speak their minds shows empathy. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being talked at and let’s be honest: no manager is perfect, either.

Making yourself open to employee comments will ultimately make your own constructive feedback more meaningful in the long-run.

Let your employees know that they can always reach you via email or Slack if they need to get something off their chests. Additionally, anonymous feedback tools like TinyPulse can be used to pick your team’s brains without anyone having to worry about repercussions.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

How Are You Providing Constructive Feedback to Your Team?

Listen: modern employees crave constructive feedback.

And likewise, managers today are expected to provide feedback that empowers employees rather than brings them down.

By sticking to the principles above, you can have meaningful conversations with your team that result in positive returns.

Oh, and don’t forget how tools like Monday can help create tighter-knit teams within your company.