Constructive Feedback – Meaning and Guide to offer

Constructive feedback is one of the most important aspects of success in an organisation. No employee in an organisation is perfect and hence is subject to criticism. The nature of criticism is the deciding factor for improvement and continued success. Destructive feedback will most likely be unproductive as it does not focus on room for improvement as much as it focuses on complaining about the present mishap. Constructive feedback, on the other hand, acknowledges the problem, analyzes it, points the positives and figures out the room for improvement.

Every manager in an organization should practise providing constructive criticism to its employees. It is as much a sign of good managerial qualities as it is of emotional intelligence. Feedback, dealt with inert and overt emotional intelligence will ensure that there is a continued success. This will also ensure that the morale of the employees is not crushed and they find a healthier and productive approach of correcting their errors and improving themselves.

 

MEANING OF CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK

However, it is clearly not as easy as it sounds. Constructive feedback literally means providing both positive and negative feedback for improvement. Feedback should always be constructive as it clubs both the positive and the negative aspects and channelises them into progress.

As mentioned earlier, it might be a slightly complex job for managers as there is always an element of human emotions that creates a barrier. Having said that, consistent practise, experience and innate skills enable a manager to grasp the concept of constructive feedback at best and therefore execute it in the workplace.

 

Benefits of Constructive Feedback in the workplace

If it already isn’t obvious, constructive feedback is not only a healthy workplace practice but also extremely advantageous for productivity and overall growth. Below discussed are the most notable advantages of providing constructive feedback to the employees :

In a study by Harvard Business School, 57 percent of employees prefer constructive feedback overpraise or criticism. This means that most employees prefer to know both their strong points as well as the points of improvement.

  1. Improves employee performance:

    As already mentioned and known, no employee is perfect. Hence they are prone to making mistakes. Constructive feedback will allow them to know their mistakes and will also provide enough motivation to act on them. Hence, this will significantly impact their performance and also help in their professional growth.

  2. Two-way benefits:

    Constructive feedback does not only help employees’ growth and performance. It, in turn, improves the productivity and work culture of the organisation. Upon helping to attain the growth to the employees, constructive criticism attains the consequent result that the organisation as a whole performs well.

  3. Ensures transparency:

    Constructive feedback ensures transparency amongst all employees as well as between all hierarchies. Feedback includes prior analysis of performance. This ensures that the top-management knows the shortcomings of its employees, the places for improvement, and also the current areas of high productivity. On the other hand, the employees also know what the management expects of them and the places where they are expected to bring change.

  4. Better team and intra-organisational performance:

    Transparency and clearly addressing the issues maintain a strong organisational fabric. This ensures that healthy interpersonal relationships exist within the organisation and its various hierarchies.

How to offer Constructive Feedback?

Constructive feedback, from its idea conception, execution and deliverance should follow a path that ensures its success. It should not only be well designed but also well-researched since it has its specific impacts that follow. Ill-designed feedback can have the possibility of demoralising the employees which may result in worsening of team relations within the organisation.

Below discussed are some of the quintessential steps to be followed in the process:

Preparation for giving Constructive feedback

A manager cannot possibly show up one fine morning and decide to give constructive feedback to its employees. There has to be a preparation that leads to actual feedback.

    • Identify specific goals and objectives that the manager decides to talk about.
    • Notify the employees about a meeting on the same. This ensures less anxiety on the part of the employees. Try to have a one-on-one feedback meeting with the employees. Otherwise, some employees might feel embarrassed when their shortcomings are discussed in front of others. This will lead to a diverted focus on the embarrassment instead of the potential to improve.
    • A surprise meeting of feedback may lead to a negative element of surprise and result in a communication that is ineffective.

Communication guidelines

When the preparation is done and it is time for the feedback, the managers must keep the communication sincere, clear and transparent to ensure successful constructive feedback. The following are some of the guidelines of communication that should be followed during the feedback meeting.

  • Try to have a one-on-one feedback meeting with the employees. Otherwise, some employees might feel embarrassed when their shortcomings are discussed in front of others. This will lead to a diverted focus on the embarrassment instead of the potential to improve.
  • Be direct in the conversation to make sure that the message is clear and straightforward.
  • Do not employ anger as one of the expressions while providing constructive feedback. The communication should, at all times, be calm, composed and professional.
  • Listen. Constructive feedback should also employ active listening on the part of the manager.
  • Be appreciative. Providing constructive feedback is all about pointing out the shortcomings and motivating the employee that he/she can do better and improve his/her performance. Hence, the communication should be appreciative.

 

Feedback content

The communication guidelines are the driving force of the actual feedback content that will be put forward in front of the employee. Having said that, it is also important to note that the content should also follow a structure as discussed below.

  1. Observations: The person giving feedback should ALWAYS communicate his observations. This can include facts, statistics, performance reviews, client reviews. But at no point should the feedback include judgemental expressions. This vilifies the entire concept of “constructive feedback”. The observations should include both positive and negative feedback. The positive ones should be about appreciation and the negative ones should be about improvement. Blatant criticism should be avoided during the feedback deliverance process.
  2. Balance: There should be a balance between both negative and positive feedback to concentrate the effects of both empty praises and severe criticisms. That is the most important element of constructive feedback.
  3. Provide examples: An important element of providing constructive criticism is to effectively communicate to the employee to facilitate positive change. For that to happen, generalisations should be avoided. The manager should provide context and examples to the employees.

Listen

Once you are done providing the feedback, it is extremely important to listen. Feedback without active listening is not constructive in any way. Listen and understand your employees’ take on the problem. Take notes as this will give them a feeling that their words are given importance too. Ask constructive questions like what does the employee think about the current situation, or how does he plan to change it. In short, invite discussion and make sure the employee feels a part of the discussion as much as the manager.

Provide suggestions

After the manager is effectively done listening to the employee, it’s time to put forward his/her suggestions. However, this is a tricky part. The suggestion that the manager makes should be devoid of any bias. Also, it should be in good accordance with what the employee has said in the last step. If the employee has mentioned any struggles, the suggestion should be in alignment with that. Otherwise, the employee is most likely to feel invalidated. Besides the suggestion should be strictly in terms of the problem that is being currently addressed. Any past issues or personal traits of the employee should not be a part of the discussion.

Follow-up

The last part of the constructive feedback process is taking a comprehensive follow-up after a period of time. If you see significant changes in employee behaviour and performance, it is very important to show him/her gratitude and congratulate him for the positive change. This will help boost employee morale. In case, the situation is still at a point of stagnancy, schedule another feedback session to communicate the same, with the provided guidelines.

 

CONCLUSION

Providing constructive feedback is one of those essential skills that every HR personnel should be welladept with. A wrong feedback model will not only affect short-term targets but also delay long-term organisation goals. In addition to that, constructive feedback followed in an organisation increases the employer brand and hence and has various positive impacts in terms of talent acquisition.

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