Wood Words

“You’re Doing That Wrong”: Tips for Providing Constructive Employee Feedback

Employee feedback that:

  • is rooted in frustration or anger?
  • only criticizes behavior, without sharing constructive advice for improvement?
  • is shared publicly?

Yikes – that’s a recipe for disaster. When employees feel personally attacked, are humiliated or receive no clear direction for improving their performance, they’re not likely to take advice to heart. They’ll just wind up demoralized. Resentful. And motivated to look for a new job where they feel valued.

How can you provide feedback the right way?

Clearly, providing constructive feedback is a management skill that must be honed. Today, our Lebanon recruiting agency offers practical tips for sharing feedback so that it’s accepted – and not ignored:

  • Make sure the recipient understands the importance of feedback. Not every employee realizes that part of their job is listening to constructive criticism from management, and then implementing suggestions. If a direct report tunes you out every time you provide feedback, make sure you “connect the dots” for them. Explain the negative impact of ignoring feedback, as well as the positive aspects of accepting (and acting on) constructive criticism.
  • Check your ego and anger at the door. If you’ve ever worked for an ogre or a power-hungry boss, then you know how crushing it is to be harshly or unfairly criticized. Before you offer feedback to any employee, take a quick time out. Make sure you’re calm, neutral and ready to tackle the issue professionally. Be prepared to withhold judgment until after you get your employee’s input.
  • Be discrete. Never berate an employee publicly; you’ll only alienate them.
  • Avoid absolutes. “You always…” “Why can’t you ever…” Conversation starters like these immediately make your employee defensive. And most of the time, sweeping generalities are inaccurate. A more productive approach? Stick to the facts and try leading with softer language like, “I’ve noticed you are [insert behavior] more frequently; can you help me understand why?”
  • Be specific. Although it may be difficult, be clear and direct when providing criticism. Explain the impact the employee’s behavior has on themselves, their team and the organization. Instead of making a general statement like “You have a bad attitude,” try something like “When you arrive late for the second time in a week, and then roll your eyes when I ask you why, it leads me to believe you don’t care about your work. In addition, your chronic lateness makes it tough for your coworkers to stay on schedule.”
  • Be constructive. Once you explain the issue and get your employee’s side of the story, engage them in specific solutions. Move beyond general guidelines like “I’d like you to be more responsible,” and involve your employee in brainstorming and agreeing upon specific actions they will take to address the issue. When your employee helps develop a solution, they’re more likely to follow through by changing their behavior.
  • Balance negatives with positives. Your employees will be much more receptive to constructive criticism if you also compliment their performance. Recognize their accomplishments, both large and small. Regularly pat them on the back for a job well done. When you temper criticism with praise, you build a positive organizational culture that drives engagement and reinforces your company’s values.

Have some feedback you’d like to share with us?

At Wood Personnel, we welcome suggestions to help us improve the quality of our staffing solutions and service. So please tell us what you think! Contact our Middle Tennessee employment agency to share your feedback.