Offering feedback on employee performance is an important aspect of effective leadership. However, doing so can be stressful for both leaders and team members. It’s also difficult to get the right message across unless you take a measured approach.
Luckily, there are strategies you can use to provide criticism to your employees. Here are a few important tips that can help you give constructive feedback as a leader.
The first thing you can do is make sure your employees know your feedback is coming from a place of help and encouragement. You want to show that you have good intentions by building a trusting relationship. The best way to do this is by soliciting feedback from them for your work as a manager as well. Always acknowledge your mistakes so they understand everyone has room for improvement and constructive feedback is a part of that.
Constructive criticism can be taken very negatively if it’s offered infrequently. People think they’re in trouble or at risk for losing their job when in reality you’re just trying to be helpful. That’s why you should make feedback a regular part of your relationships with employees. Once they know that discussing progress is a part of the job, they’ll feel less nervous and more receptive to feedback. Providing ongoing and regular coaching helps ensure that when you need to have difficult conversation, the team member isn’t immediately starting from a defensive position, because they are already used to receiving feedback and understand it is just part of growing in their professional positions.
While providing frequent feedback is important, you don’t want to over utilize this strategy and end up micromanaging your employees. Feedback is one thing; providing strict step-by-step instructions is another. It’s rarely necessary or productive to provide a lot of feedback throughout the day. Giving employees some space to try different strategies in their job helps make them feel empowered and motivated. Even if you think they might make a mistake, often it’s best to allow new employees to learn from them. Once mistakes are repeated regularly, it’s time to step in to offer redirection.
Don’t forget that not all of your feedback needs to be negative! It’s even more important to acknowledge their positive achievements, and do so publicly. This can help employees feel valued for their hard work. Seeing others publicly recognized for their achievements can also motivate others to do more. When you make efforts to help your employees feel valued, you can avoid giving a lot of negative feedback in the long run.
The real key to making your feedback constructive is how you word it. Don’t approach employees with a list of problems with their work, instead explain specific ways they can improve. Don’t criticize a person’s characteristics, just focus on behaviors to work on. For example, instead of saying “You’re a slow worker,” give specific suggestions for how they can speed up their work process. Instead consider something like “Numbers in your department are lagging behind other departments. Is there something I can do to help you improve that?”
Offering constructive feedback is one of the main aspects of a leader’s job. Doing so in a way that maximizes the positive impact of your feedback is important if you want employees to succeed and your business to perform well. Always take a measured approach using the strategies outlined above to provide the best constructive feedback so you and your employees all are more effective at your jobs.