The best business leaders build people as they build their businesses. An essential part of doing this is knowing how to provide constructive feedback. Positive feedback and input from a leader can help a struggling employee turn things around and do better. Such feedback helps with incremental improvements in critical areas, leading to employee development. Below, we look at crucial principles for giving constructive feedback.
Give Feedback as Soon as Possible
Storing feedback is never good because it can lead to a leader giving too much feedback at once. Doing so can lead to information overload, where employees can forget what was said or be unable to process it all. Second, it can lead to defensiveness as people dislike being criticized.
Once a leader observes something going on with an employee or team member, they should provide constructive feedback immediately. Because business leaders will provide this feedback in little chunks, such feedback is much less likely to lead to the two issues discussed above.
Feedback seemingly given in a vacuum raises more questions than answers. It is therefore important to provide context so the employee can understand the feedback in the correct context. For example, let an underperforming employee understand how their performance affects the business and the rest of the team.
Before addressing the employee or team member concerned, think about situations that would help provide additional context. In the example above, consider whether other employees are receiving extra work due to their colleague’s performance and how that impacts morale.
Be a Good Active Listener
Giving feedback is not only about delivering information to an employee or colleague but also about being an active listener. When business leaders do not listen as they provide feedback, they can come off as attacking instead of helping. This can make employees retreat instead of using the feedback to find areas of improvement and act upon them.
Employees typically have reasons why they are not performing as expected. The extent to which they can discuss what is going on depends on the business leader’s ability to listen and tailor their feedback to what they are hearing.
Because of how critical listening is, whether giving or receiving feedback, it is something business leaders should get additional training on. Enrolling in leadership development courses in a reputable university can allow them to gain the active listening skills they need to provide better and more constructive feedback.
Feedback should be easy to follow and understand. Going off on a tangent and not staying on the main message can lead to confusion and the feedback not being understood or received as you expect it to be. Keeping feedback direct, clear, and concise will help greatly with this.
Many business leaders find it beneficial to stick to one message or feedback during meetings. Writing down what they will discuss with an employee also helps. Memorizing the points can work too, but it could also lead to the leader forgetting a few things and meandering.
Feedback is one of the most important toolsbusiness leaders have for employee development and understanding what is happening with them. Knowing how to give feedback, listen, and receive it are all part of being a good leader. Being comfortable with employees will make giving feedback and listening much easier.