Can you think of a time when you were given feedback at work that didn't seem very helpful or maybe even felt insulting?
Poor feedback can be ineffective or even create a negative effect, especially when you're in a role leading others.
You can help coworkers recognize areas of growth in a productive way by learning these five strategies for effective constructive feedback.
⚖️ Strike a Balance
Look for the positive with the negative.
Research suggests people given constant critical feedback without the proper balance of positive feedback can experience fight or flight type responses. This can impact the ability to process feedback properly, making it less effective.
An ideal balance to strive for is five positive recognitions for each negative criticism.
📈 Just the Facts
Address the issue and not the person.
Base your feedback on observed behaviors rather than personality traits or your personal feelings.
Think about which of these comments seems more effective at improving behavior:
"I don't like your rudeness toward other people during our meetings. Do you think you can fix that?"
"I noticed you interrupted your teammates twice during our huddle today. Let's discuss some other ways to share your ideas that align with our team norms."
🔮 Clear is Kind
Give specific and actionable details.
General comments leave too much to interpretation and often create more questions than answers. Instead, try specific suggestions with examples when possible.
Consider the difference in these approaches:
❌ "I can't understand your writing."
✔️ "I like the ideas you've written here, but this word choice might make it clearer for your readers."
❌ "This is poor organization."
✔️ "Saving important files this way makes it challenging for others to find what they need. What do you think about trying it this way instead?"
👩🏽 Get in Some Face Time
Discuss feedback face-to-face when possible.
One-on-one conversations help your feedback feel more genuine. For remote work, this can be done in a video conference:
Make time to meet instead of messaging feedback. This allows your colleague to ask questions or respond directly.
Ask for feedback in return at the end of your discussion. For example, "What can I do to better support your growth?"
⌚ Do it Early and Often
Aim for immediate and frequent feedback.
Immediate feedback helps coworkers understand their progress. If you notice errors that need to be corrected, it's better to fix them earlier rather than later when bad habits will have to be broken.
Frequent feedback, especially when balanced, can help people feel seen and valued, so set time aside in your daily schedule to provide feedback often.
Here is a short video you can watch to learn about a clear model for delivering feedback:
🗣 Alisha Gives Feedback — A Scenario
Alisha notices her colleague Kwan's pattern of tardiness to meetings. She wants to discuss ways to improve. During a one-on-one chat, these are some of the comments Alisha makes to Kwan:
A) "I love the ideas you bring to our team huddles. You have great insight into how we can improve our efficiency."
B) "I'm concerned that your frequent tardiness shows a lack of respect for the team's collaboration time."
C) "Setting notifications in my online calendar helps remind me 10 minutes before a meeting starts. What are your thoughts on that?"
D) "I'd love to check in again next week to see how that is working for you. Is there anything else I can do to help support you?"
Which of Alisha's comments would be the least effective in improving Kwan's tardiness?
Taking time to prepare effective feedback will go a long way in helping your team grow!
Here are some things to start doing before your next feedback session: