Delivering Constructive Feedback

Picture this, something has happened in the workplace that requires you to provide constructive, (and possibly negative), feedback to an employee…

Uh oh!

We know, giving negative feedback isn’t fun, but it’s a crucial part of being a good supervisor, manager, employer, or HR professional. When done right, it helps both the employee and the company to grow and thrive!

Alright, let's begin!

Now, keep in mind that good and positive feedback motivates employees and helps them know what to do better. But when it comes to constructive criticism and potentially negative feedback – particularly if it’s done badly – it can really bring people down and cause problems.

However, avoiding tough conversations won’t solve anything! Instead, see them as opportunities for growth. People often find them scary because of how they’re delivered, and not the actual issue! Feedback helps folks improve, which is good for everyone.

Another thing to note… Don’t wait too long to have these talks. It’s actually caring to address problems early. Maybe the person doesn’t even realize what they’re doing wrong, so talking about it gives them a chance to fix it. No one likes being kept in the dark!

An excellent, engaging, and relatively quick read to give you a hand when it comes to constructive criticism and conflict is: “The Joy of Conflict Resolution” by Gary Harper. We recommend checking it out!

Here's a few tips that you can use when giving feedback:

Keep in mind...

Remember, feedback isn’t just a quarterly or yearly thing. Timing matters! It’s best to talk about it soon after the issue comes up. Making feedback a regular thing helps people get used to it. And remember to highlight what’s going well, not just what needs fixing.

Giving feedback is a skill, and managers should learn how to do it well. Encourage open communication between both peers and leaders. For example, just asking for feedback yourself can build trust!

Afterwards, check in with the person. It can be an intimidating conversation! If they’re struggling, ask how they feel about the feedback and how the leadership team can support them to make the requested changes; don’t assume you know what’s going on with them.

Still feel stuck? Not to worry, KES has more resources for you!

The SBI (Situation-Behaviour-Impact) Model helps to break it down even further:

– Situation: When and where it happened.

– Behaviour: Stick to what you saw.

– Impact: Explain what happened because of it.

Still not enough?

Want to learn more? 

We have additional Hiring Advice reading, and some may help with fostering an environment where constructive criticism and feedback is encouraged and accepted, try reading our article “Workplace Culture and Your Employees”, or “Why Good Team Relationships Matter”.

Overall, giving negative feedback isn’t easy, but it’s part of being a good leader. Keep these tips in mind and be understanding. People might need time to think or talk things out. But remember, as a supervisor, manager, or employer, it’s important to stick to your expectations.

Here are some additional resources on providing constructive criticism and feedback!

The SBI Model stands for Situation-Behaviour-Impact. You can read more about it at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Kootenay Employment Services has an article with our tips for creating a great workplace culture; this can help encourage an environment that is open to constructive criticism.

“The Joy of Conflict Resolution” by Gary Harper helps readers understand conflict and why it arises through the lens of the “drama triangle” of victims, villains and heroes. In an accessible, engaging and light-hearted style that uses stories and humor to explore potentially emotionally charged situations, it provides proven and practical skills to move beyond confrontation to resolve conflicts collaboratively

Achiever’s is an online company that provides a large variety of companies and agencies with support in employee engagement. Their article offers 5 different examples on how managers can provide feedback to their employees.