Without a doubt, knowing how to give constructive feedback is a cornerstone of increasing your overall personal effectiveness. Following these simple steps ensures your feedback is well received and encourages development. Remember, feedback should be an ongoing part of developing your employees. Don’t wait until an annual review to give your team members the tools they need to be effective!
Step 1: State the constructive purpose of your feedback. – First, briefly state your purpose by indicating what you’d like to cover and why it’s important. If you are initiating feedback, this focus gives the other person a heads up about how the conversation will go. If the other person has requested feedback, a focusing statement will make sure that you direct your feedback toward what the person needs. Remember to be clear and straight to the point.
Step 2: Describe specifically what you have observed and the ideal outcome. – Have a certain event or action in mind and be able to say when and where it happened, who was involved, and what the results were. Stick to what you personally observed and don’t try to speak for others. Avoid talking vaguely about what the person concerned “always” or “usually” does. Most of all, describe what you would like to see in the future. For example, “I’d like to foster a workplace where everyone has input,” or “Let’s focus on supporting each other to reach our sales goals this quarter.”
Step 3: Describe your reactions. – Explain the consequences of the other person’s behavior and how you feel about it. Then give examples of how you and others are affected. Describing reactions or consequences allows the other person to see and understand the impact their actions are having on others and the organization.
Step 4: Give the other person an opportunity to respond. – Feedback is a two-way street; don’t forget to listen to what the other person has to say. Remain silent and meet the other person’s eye, indicating that you are waiting for answer. If the person hesitates to respond, ask an open ended question.
Step 5: Offer specific suggestions. – Whenever possible, make your suggestions helpful by including practical, feasible examples. Offering suggestions shows that you have thought past your evaluations and moved to how to improve the situation. Constructive feedback is centered around development and coaching. Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways, discusses effective feedback and highlights that “you have to care about the person and their development.” Even if people are working up to expected standards, they can always benefit from ideas that could help them perform better!
Step 6: Summarize and express your support – At the end of the conversation, it’s always important to review the major points you discussed. Summarize the action items, not the negative points of the other person’s behavior. For corrective feedback, stress the main things you’ve discussed that the person could do differently and develop their skills. It’s important to always end on a positive note by expressing confidence in the person’s ability to improve the situation. By summarizing, you can avoid misunderstandings and check to make sure that your communication is clear. The summary is also an opportunity to show your support for the other person and an effective way to conclude a negative feedback situation on a positive note.
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