Between digitization and the influx of Gen Zers in the workplace, many HR managers are having to reevaluate their traditional HR practices and create new strategies that suit a more modern workforce. The majority of today's job seekers are looking for progressive work environments where flexibility, security, and opportunities for growth are top priorities. In particular, growth opportunities are key for employee retention, and feedback plays a huge role in how well your workers progress in your organization. The better your feedback, the more an employee will improve.
Constructive feedback reassures your employees that you care about their career progression by identifying areas that they can work on. It also helps keep your employees focused on organizational goals so they know what to prioritize when it comes to their everyday work. That said, how you offer feedback is vital. What sounds like solid advice to you may sound like criticism to others, and this can actually demotivate your employees in the long run. So here are five tips on how to be more mindful while giving constructive feedback so your employees can grow within your organization.
Gather performance feedback from multiple people
The first step to providing meaningful feedback is observing how your employees have performed on a task or project. When you are comparing the final result against the goals they started with, there are a few things to consider. How reasonable were those goals? Who was involved? Have one-on-one sessions with the employee's manager, coworkers, and DRIs to get a more comprehensive view of their performance. You can also encourage the employee to do a self-evaluation. Your employees will know their own capabilities best. Giving them the chance to assess their own performance will give you a clearer understanding of the successes they had and the roadblocks they faced. Together, these multiple sources of feedback will help make your interpretations more objective and accurate.
Have the right mix of positive and negative
Feedback that only highlights the good or the bad doesn't drive better employee performance. The "sandwich" approach, where negative feedback is hidden between positive feedback, is also not efficient. Feedback is only constructive when it gives employees a clear understanding of what they are doing well and what they can improve upon. Choose a consistent format when giving feedback. Start with their strengths and follow up with their weak points, for example. This consistency gives employees a better idea of what to expect, and they'll be more likely to ask for feedback directly in the future. When highlighting areas for improvement, be very specific about what changes you want to see. Don't fixate on what failed. Instead, provide insights on why it failed, what the employee can do better next time, and how you can help them.
Give feedback face-to-face whenever possible
This is especially important if the feedback is serious. Messages sent over an email or a chat can seem dry, resulting in a less engaging dialogue. Text communication is also easier to misinterpret in some cases. If you speak to an employee face-to-face, you'll be able to gauge how they are reacting in real time as you explain the issue. Their body language will give away a lot about whether they agree with your perspective or if they still have questions that they may be too nervous to ask. An in-person conversation or a video chat will allow you to pick up on these cues and address their concerns without judgement. Lastly, be sure to inform an employee of the meeting's purpose if you plan to set aside a formal time for feedback. Otherwise, it may catch them off guard.
Communicate mindfully and respectfully
While delivering feedback, be conscious about your tone, body language, and the words you use so that you don't come across as intimidating. This way, your employees will open up and have a more honest conversation with you. Support your feedback with facts gathered during the employee evaluation. Be assertive about the good points you've noticed, but also about the changes you'd like to see. Not beating around the bush establishes mutual respect and helps you communicate your feedback more clearly without risking hurt feelings. Also, be careful while providing feedback to employees from a different culture. In some cultures, feedback is expected to be direct and straightforward—almost business-like. In others, this approach can be seen as highly rude, and there may be more nuanced ways of getting your point across. The best way to discover which style suits each individual employee most is by asking them and trying out different approaches and gauging their response.
Allow your employees to respond with their input
Once you are done providing your feedback, encourage your employees to share how they feel about it. In case you did not get a formal self-evaluation, this gives you the chance to hear your employee's side of the story. You may not always know what actually led to a mistake or setback. It may have been because of something beyond their capacity. If they push back about something, try not to criticize them and focus on helping them overcome the obstacles they're facing. Be sure to ask them if they have any questions, and follow up every once in a while on the feedback format. Do your employees feel as though they are receiving too much feedback? Not enough? Would they prefer impromptu meetings or scheduled feedback times? Feedback like this helps you to adjust your management style to your team.
In today's fast-changing work environment, feedback is highly essential to help employees improve their performance. It must be specific, timely, and continuous in order for employees to get the most out of it. We hope this blog gave you insight on how to provide constructive feedback that truly helps your employees thrive!