Letting people know what they’re doing well and where they need to improve is key to helping people maintain and further improve their performance and contributions to the team.

Most managers agree that this is an important part of their role. However, many managers also feel decidedly uncomfortable when it comes to actually getting the words out.

Giving feedback sensitively, appropriately and in a timely manner is essential though – not only for individuals receiving feedback, but also for line managers to connect with their team members and help them maximise their potential.

Not giving feedback to colleagues can lead to:

  • Lower morale within a team which feels its line manager is uninterested
  • Individuals feeling that their good performance is unrecognised and unappreciated
  • Individuals remaining unaware of any areas for improvement
  • Managers feeling frustrated at continued poor performance or negative behaviours

The fact is that humans don’t communicate telepathically. So, if you’re pleased with the way someone has been working – tell them! Equally, if there are areas where someone needs to improve – and may need support to make those improvements – tell them! But do it sensitively…

Top tips on how to Give Constructive Feedback  

Whether you're a new manager seeking to create a culture of continuous improvement within your team or an individual striving for effective communication, Professional Development Training has the perfect management training workshops to make this happen! But for now, we've put together a few useful tips that can provide insight into how to give feedback constructively.

1. Be timely

Don’t store things up for the annual performance review meeting (which in our experience doesn’t always happen on time in most organisations anyway!)

Give feedback as close to the event as possible.

If someone has done something well, then it’s important to let them know as soon as possible – so they know what to continue doing to be on the right track. Similarly, to nip poor behaviour or errors in the bud, feedback needs to be delivered as soon as possible, so the individual doesn’t simply keep repeating the same mistakes or poor performance.

2. Be specific

Avoid using generalities – giving a specific example of what was either good or bad, helps clarify things to people receiving feedback and ensures a better understanding of the points being made. Describe the actual behaviour they showed – what specifically they did so well/incorrectly in a particular real-life example – so there is no misunderstanding what you’re giving feedback on.

Real-life examples ensure you have evidence to back up your feedback, so it’s objective rather than subjective.  

For example, there’s no point saying to someone they seem to be disorganised, without evidence to back it up. The individual may think they’re perfectly well organised and will continue – justifiably – to refuse to change their opinion of themselves, unless you have evidence to the contrary that you bring to the discussion.

The same applies when giving positive feedback to someone – ensure you specify exactly what they did that was so effective, so it’s clear what positive traits need to be repeated in future.  

For example, telling someone they ‘did well’ when they gave a presentation, is just a compliment – it’s not constructive feedback! How do they know what was so good if you’re not specific? Provide the evidence to back up your feedback - tell them the way they brought the material to life with analogies was really powerful; or maybe their use of easy to understand language got the message across to the audience. Help them understand what positive traits to continue to use in future.  

3. Listen to their point of view

Once you’ve given your specific comment, with evidence – ask their opinion. Open the conversation up. Invite their perspective, and see what they think. There may be circumstances of which you are unaware and unless you’re prepared to listen to their side, you may miss something key. This is particularly important when giving feedback relating to something that feels negative or is likely to be received negatively. Working collaboratively with someone to try to help get things back on track is far more constructive than simply telling someone what to do.

4. Agree on the next steps

Working together, identify the best next steps, establish a time frame for making the changes, ensure any support or additional resources they might need are in place and diarise a date to review things together. Don’t let this action plan slip – the review process is key to consolidating improvements made.

5. Try feedforward

If you’ve given someone some positive feedback on something that’s already happened, think about adjusting your view and looking to the future. Asking how might they continue to develop this change/behaviour/skill in future refocuses on positive steps to move forward. How else might they be able to use this positive trait in future? What further opportunities might you both be able to create to maximise their potential?  

Being able to give constructive feedback, that lands well with someone is a fundamental interpersonal skill that every successful manager must crack.  

Feedback must celebrate as well as critique; it must be regular, not annual; it’s a learning opportunity if done correctly and managers must hone their emotional intelligence to ensure it is therefore given sensitively.

How can Management Training Help your Feedback Skills?

Through specialised management training courses, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of effective communication, enabling them to deliver constructive feedback in a clear and concise manner. These training programmes often focus on active listening, empathy, and the skill of providing specific, actionable feedback. Here at PDT, we offer various skills workshops and management development courses that empower you to enhance your skills and effectively offer confident feedback to your team. By honing these skills, managers can build stronger relationships with their team members, improve performance, and contribute to a positive and collaborative workplace atmosphere.

Book Management Development Courses in Birmingham & Surrounds!  

If you are looking for management training courses in the West Midlands, PDT can help individuals and businesses flourish with the right approach to working within a team. We understand the pressure of being in a leadership role, so this is an opportunity to boost your confidence and ensure that you contribute to a pleasurable work environment and retain a great relationship with your teams. Whether you’re stepping up to become a leader or want to brush up on your skills, contact the friendly team at PDT to discover how we can help you succeed and aid professional development.  

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