Providing feedback to employees is probably one of the most important and critical responsibilities of the 21st-century manager, which is fulfilled by most, ironically, in a rather clichéd manner.
But cliché or not, a robust feedback mechanism still remains one of the fundamental functions of a good organisation. That being said, providing feedback that is constructive may not come easy to a lot of managers. While they may have good intentions, many often end up crossing the thin line that separates positive and negative feedback. This may occur during random one-on-one reviews or during the annual appraisals.
A lot of factors come into play when delivering feedback, including the tone in which the feedback was given and the kind of words chosen etc.A clear ‘Rethink’ strategy is called for when the feedback sessions do more harm than good in the form of lowering engagement, disgruntled employees, and less productivity. Click To Tweet
Here are a few examples of constructive feedback that can be applied to the different scenarios that managers come across in the day to day affairs of their organisation. But before delving into that, let us look into the very basis of constructive feedback, what it should reflect, and how to prepare yourself before providing it to the employees.
How to Frame Constructive Feedback
Observation is critical if a manager wants to provide meaningful feedback. Without properly observing the details, big or small, it is impossible to clearly state what is expected out of the employees. Constructive feedback is clear and precise, based on a manager’s observation of the employee and his/her work.
Constructive feedback is provided to drive the best out of the employees while remembering that the same can inadvertently turn into negative criticism quite easily. Instead, managers have to focus on helping employees realise their scope for improvement and advise accordingly. So, objectively highlight the areas for improvement and give actionable suggestions.
Appreciation is a highly underrated tool that does not cost a dime but can have huge positive ramifications. If feedback is delivered in an appreciative tone, the receiver understands the actual meaning behind the words in a much better manner. There have been ample research studies that credit regular appreciation with boosting employee morale and productivity.
Constructive feedback should be delivered on the back of empathy. Empathise with your employees, and understand their worries and concerns. Give them the space to express their opinions, and consider that they might have a different approach towards their work.
5 Examples of Sharing Constructive Feedback to Employees
Scenario 1: Arun’s performance has suddenly declined and he is having trouble meeting deadlines.
Instead of jumping to conclusions and blaming Arun for bad performance, it is a good idea to give some constructive feedback like:
“I noticed that you are trying to reevaluate your work habits over the last week or so, and therefore there is a considerable difference in your productivity as opposed to your usual performance. I am aware of your exemplary approach towards work and how result-driven you normally are, so I quickly wanted to check with you if you are facing any challenges and if I can be of any help to you”
Scenario 2: Neha is a hardworking employee but often comes to the office late.
It is a very commonplace scenario, but one that should not be taken lightly and brought to her notice in a subtle yet effective way. Here, constructive feedback would look like:
“Your performance report speaks for itself, and thanks for doing a great job as always! However, I really wish to see you getting ahead sooner and feel that you could achieve much more by coming to work earlier than you usually do every day. This will give you more time with the team and help you collaborate better and achieve your goals in a better manner.”
Scenario 3: Akash excels when he is working alone on a project but tends to avoid working along with his team members.
Many managers may ignore this believing that as long as work is done, they don’t really need to interfere, but a good manager realises the importance of being a team player and nudges the employee in the right direction, putting forth some constructive feedback such as:
“It is hard to come by people who stick to their guns and can solve problems single-handedly and I must say, it impresses me that you possess this wonderful trait. Having said that, I can’t help but bring to your notice that your team could definitely use some inputs from you or you could use an extra hand on your upcoming projects. Who knows you may end up learning a thing or two as well? Therefore, I suggest active participation with the rest of your team members so that we can all excel together.”
Scenario 4: Pooja is great at her job but lacks proper communication skills.
In this scenario, it is possible that the employee may be struggling with certain issues which might stop her from speaking up, so it is important to instil confidence and at the same time encourage the employee to open up. Encouraging constructive feedback here could look like:
“I have been getting positive reviews regarding your work not only from your team leader but fellow team members as well. However, there is one area which might be stopping you from achieving your fullest potential as the top contributor, which is your lack of communication. We would love to hear your ideas and thoughts regarding different agendas that are discussed during team meetings. Please be assured that we all work as a team, and therefore hearing out every team member is our priority and part of the team culture that we want to build.
Feel free to reach out to me in case you are facing any sort of hiccups and I would be happy to help you. Do not hesitate to voice your opinions as everyone is entitled to their own and even if there occurs a mistake, your team will be there to help you in every way possible.”
Scenario 5: Nikhil often skips work without prior intimation.
The feedback should first entail an inquiry into the reason behind the employee’s frequent absence and then suggest the proper solution. Make sure you validate the reason given by the employee, beware of him or her making up stories that sound too good to be true. A constructive feedback, in this case, would be:
“I was going through the work absence reports and noticed frequent leaves under your name, as many as two per week for the past couple of months. Please let me know the reason behind your absence and if I can help you in any way. I understand everyone can have a different measure of the work-life balance that they want to achieve, yet I want to point out that you are missing out on quite a lot of information whenever you skip work which has started to reflect on your performance. As your manager, I am concerned and would like to extend a helping hand to tide over this, in case you need my assistance.”
Feedback is a two-way street that demands genuine openness and collaboration between both, the giver and receiver. Both parties need to maturely discuss their expectations and mutually decide on the way forward. Done in the right manner, constructive feedback can create rapport and build trust between managers and their team members, setting the stage for greater success.
We hope the above examples serve as a guiding light on how constructive feedback should be delivered!