No one looks forward to feedback or criticisms. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, feedback sessions can be difficult and awkward.
Even so, constructive feedback or criticism a vital step towards improving performance in the workplace. To make it less uncomfortable and more productive, follow these five tips.
Focus on the behaviour
Address behaviours and habits rather than the person. Instead of saying, “You’re careless in your work,” focus on the benefits of changing the behaviour. “Take some time to double check your work and I’m confident that client feedback will improve.” Remember that no one likes being criticised and giving suggestions can be a helpful guide for the person receiving the feedback.
Don’t make comparisons
Feedback sessions are about helping an employee reach their potential, not about becoming someone else. Additionally, when you use another employee as an example, you risk being accused of favouritism, which can create resentment between your employees. Motivate employees to become better versions of themselves.
Use supporting examples
When citing behaviours or giving feedback, be clear by giving specific examples. For instance, instead of saying, “Can you improve this report? I don’t like it,” include reasons and ways to improve. “Nice job on the reports, but the formatting needs to be improved. Standardise the font and align the text to the left.” Avoid keeping your employees guessing with vague language.
Let them talk
Giving your employees the chance to respond to your feedback is good for both of you. Not only will your employees appreciate the chance to explain their side of things, but you’ll also be able to better understand the situation. Similarly, give them a chance to offer solutions. “What else could you do to improve productivity?” Letting them come up with solutions will give them some ownership and responsibility for fixing errors.
Prioritise your feedback
If you have more than a few faults to address, prioritise which habits to work on first. Presenting a long list of improvements will be draining for both you and your employee. Keep your list short with one to three items to address and give them time to work on them. In your next session, acknowledge successes and encourage them to continue to do well.
To sum it up, feedback sessions are about improving employee performance and organisational growth, not about venting frustrations. When done right, these sessions can also help you build stronger relationships between you and your team.