Feedback is an aspect of our lives that is constant and crucial. It may appear in the form of a coach yelling at you from the sidelines to “keep your eyes up!” or as the familiar red pen corrections on a final English paper. Your parents gave you feedback growing up when they taught you to ride a bike or drive a car. Today, giving feedback in a workplace can be a tricky practice.
Giving feedback is an integral part of establishing a productive team dynamic. But where can an advisor draw the line between constructive criticism and unhelpful comments? Here are three aspects of good feedback to aid in promoting positivity and productivity when checking in with members of your team.
What Helpful Feedback in the Workplace Looks Like
1) Sincere comments on specific actions and events
According to Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s studies regarding the effects of praise in children, the results show that addressing specifics in a child’s performance prove more lasting than generalized praise. The same applies to working adults. Employees will respond more immediately when given more precise advice on where to improve, particularly when said advice is genuinely aimed at the betterment of the employee and the company as a whole. To implement this, touch on certain instances that model the behaviors you want them to improve. For example, “I appreciate that you worked overtime yesterday to refine your presentation” versus “Thank you for taking initiative yesterday.”
2) Focus on your employees’ strengths rather than shortcomings
It can be difficult for anyone to maintain a strong work ethic when they are constantly being reminded of their failures instead of being recognized for their successes. Honest feedback is not always harsh or blunt comments — a candid workplace can equal workplace happiness. Positive communication fosters a more positive work environment, boosting morale as well as growth within individual employees.
3) Encourage open discussion with your staff
Talking at someone can only do so much to improve their performance. Instead, try talking with your employee and ask them questions to get their perspective. Which do you think would yield a better outcome: “You could do better with meeting deadlines” or “I noticed that your last project was completed late. Can you tell me more about this? How can we improve that?” My guess is the latter. Communication is always key. It is important to allow the employee receiving feedback to speak on their recent progress or lack thereof in order to figure out a way to move forward while being on the same page for the direction for the future.
It’s important to recognize that while these tips can improve the general quality of your feedback and how your employees respond to it, every individual is different. What one person responds well to might not go over quite as well with their co-worker. At the end of the day, you know your relationship with your staff members best, so make sure to individualize your commentary based on each different personality and set of abilities.
As experts in building a strong team dynamic, we have seen many companies overcome communication barriers and develop strong feedback skills in our offsite programs. Whether it’s a day at the beach with some fun offsite team building or a carefully crafted offsite retreat, we can help you build a program with purpose that results in a strong communication foundation.