How to Give Feedback Constructively

Anyone in a management role will find it necessary to provide both positive and negative feedback to their employees. When it comes to negative feedback, though, many don’t feel comfortable initiating the conversation. Being in charge of a team is no easy task, and the need to address a concern with a team member can seem daunting. This can lead to repeated inefficiencies and poor behaviors. To keep the business running smoothly and ensure that you will receive respect in your role, delivering constructive feedback is critical.


Here are 9 tips to fine-tuning the ability to give feedback constructively:

1. Designate Time – Make sure you have set enough time aside for a discussion, so that no party will feel rushed. The less pressure in the environment, the better the results will be.

2.Receptive Audience – Use your emotional intelligence to determine if it is a good time to have this conversation. We go into detail about that in this blog here.

3. Get Permission – When you ask permission to provide feedback rather than just offering it, it puts the other party in a receptive state. Just hearing themselves agree to hear your feedback makes them feel more in control, and more willing to see eye to eye with you.

4. Give an Example – Be clear when you provide your feedback. Citing a specific example will help the recipient to understand exactly what it is that you are addressing, and why it is a concern. For instance, announcing “You seem distant at meetings” leaves the other person wondering what it was about their actions that led you to this conclusion. Instead, saying “You don’t seem to actively participate in meetings. Yesterday, you pulled out your phone and took a call in the middle of one” paints a clear picture of where the problem lies, and makes it more likely that the problem will be corrected.

5. Explain the Impact – Let the employee know how their action affected the team or the situation. From our former example, this can be explained by saying “It takes people a while to get back on track after the mid-meeting interruption.” Knowing that others are impacted by their action will ensure that the person thinks more considerately.

6. Try Coaching –  Asking coaching style questions will invite the person to come up with their own solution. Like a good coach, you will lead them to draw alternatives to their behavior through open ended questions [link to blog], such as “What else do you think you could do in that situation?” or “How else do you think you might handle that now?”

7. Talk Takeaways  – Directly ask the other party what they are taking away from the discussion, so that you can hear an echo of the feedback you provided. This is a good chance to remedy if they have misunderstood your feedback.

8. Action Items – If possible, have specific action items following the feedback that address the behavioral issue and the planned resolution.

9. Follow Up – Check in at the next appropriate time to confirm that the addressed issues have been resolved. 


Our related blog discusses the other end of the token, accepting feedback gracefully.