Constructive Feedback in the Workplace - How?

You may encounter feedback giving culture as a manager who manages people, and may also as a peer or team member when working on projects to ensure that everyone is conscious of what they have been doing. That said, giving feedback, especially constructive ones, is always easier said than done. Here are some tips on giving feedback in the most effective and respective manner.

1. Positive-Negative balance

Balancing positive and negative points is the key to constructive feedback. You do not want the receiver to either feel like a personal attack for just pointing out what they did wrong or to feel like they have done an exceptional job and do not need any improvement.

Particularly, when a work does not meet your expectation, let them know that you appreciate their hard work in the past or that you are impressed by their commitment, but also make sure to address the problem by pointing out what can be done better. On the other hand, avoid the trap which is misleading people to think of their performance as better than it actually is. Instead, give them other ideas and advice on improving the already-good work. This applies to everyone, but is especially true to perfectionists who always seek for the better.

Put simply, try to address things as two sides, and make sure to provide recommendations and opportunities to further harness later performances.

2. Be specific

Not everyone can detect fault by themselves without people addressing it to them. Feedback giver, in this case, plays the role of giving essential comment on the receiver’s work. Telling someone they need to improve their performance without going into details about what part needs adjustment is not going to help. Be specific in your feedback, directly tell the receiver what aspect of the work you need them to work on more. This goes to positive feedback as well. Do not just praise the receiver with “Good job” or “Well done”, giving signs that you actually observe their performance by commenting on that one specific, exceptional part of the work will help.

3. Face to face communication

In today’s modern world, you may think online communication is the most convenient way. This, however, does not wholly apply to feedback giving culture. Of course, it is not wrong to use email or phone, but it would be a lot better to have face-to-face conversation. Why, you may wonder. As much as these technologies are convenient, they lack one crucial aspect of communication: non-verbal language.

Communicating through online platforms excludes the tone, the body posture and gesture as well as the emotional feeling. The receiver may interpret your words in a negative manner while you actually do not mean it. Offline conversation also allows you to ask follow up questions regarding the performance of the feedback receiver. This helps you to deeply understand their situation and the reason behind their poor performance for the case of negative feedback, thereby addressing the problem more effectively. In contrast, using email, message or phone call for positive feedback may result in the receiver focusing only on their compliment without recognizing the improvement they could have made.

4. Be consistent

Don’t just wait for some unexpected problem coming up to give feedback to other people. Create a meeting every week or month, depending on the scope of work of your expertise, when you can give feedback to others and receive feedback on your performance from others. Making feedback giving a regular basis helps to maintain the same work expectation between giver and receiver. By observing the other’s work to give feedback, both would be in the know of the overall situation so that when something unpredictable happens, you will both be prepared.


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