5 Tips for Constructive Employee Feedback

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Constructive employee feedback
Mary Springer headshot
Mary Springer
April 17, 2023

Constructive employee feedback is pivotal in the workplace. Feedback allows employees to adjust their behavior to meet their employers’ expectations. Furthermore, it helps managers communicate effectively to ensure that both the parties are on the same page. Constructive feedback is an effective tool for improving employee performance and mindset in the workplace.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Managers and others who are tasked with overseeing employees may dread these conversations. What can start out as a simple discussion may unwittingly evolve into a tense conversation. However, skipping the conversation is rarely productive, especially when certain behaviors need to be addressed. How can managers and employers offer feedback that is productive and effective?

At That’s Good HR, we have more than 20 years’ experience working with some of the Indianapolis area’s best employers. As part of our staffing services, we often serve as the middleman between employers and employees during those important first few months in the workplace. Thanks to experience and countless conversations, we have been able to see what works and what doesn’t. Read on for our five tips on constructive employee feedback.

Feedback matters

When you set aside time for a review, you’re telling your employees that their position in the business is important. You’re also communicating a commitment to continued employee growth and development. By following the tips below, you’re opening the door to an evolving relationship and better business practices that ultimately make your company – and your employees – stronger.

1. Give feedback in person

Most businesses have perfected the art of communicating electronically, but constructive employee feedback conversations should be done face-to-face. It’s too easy to misread tone in an email or text. If the employee is a remote worker, set up a time for a phone or video conversation. Make sure you’re in a safe, private place. These discussions can become emotional, and everyone deserves to know that their responses are staying within the room.

2. Stay specific and problem focused

It may be easy to give orders without explaining their rationale. For instance, punctuality can be a game-changer in many workplaces. But not every employee may fully appreciate its importance. If you tell an employee to quit coming in late, you’re giving an order. If you have a conversation that begins with a discussion of why it’s important for the employee to come to work on time, you’re helping them understand that their 15-minute delay can have repercussions on coworkers and customers. Make observations, not accusations. Say, “I notice that you have been arriving late to work a few times a week. What’s going on?” instead of “You’re almost always late.” There may be an underlying issue you can easily address.

3. Praise is an important part of constructive employee feedback

It’s easy to focus on what’s not being done correctly. On the other hand, if you neglect to recognize the good things an employee does, you’re losing an important tool in establishing a trusting relationship. Positive feedback can lessen the blow, so to speak, of criticism. It tells the employee that you recognize the work they are doing and reinforces that you are a manager who appreciates their efforts.

4. Be sincere

In a thriving business relationship, feedback can benefit both the employee and the company. Reinforce the message that you want the employee to succeed. Ultimately, an empowered and improved workforce is going to strengthen the business. You’re not offering constructive employee feedback because you want employees to fail. You’re offering it because you know they have the potential to contribute. Nobody is a finished product – not you, not the employee. Reinforce the message that you never stop growing, and feedback can help you become stronger and more productive.

5. Be open to feedback in return

Feedback goes both ways. Your conversations with employees should include a chance for them to voice their concerns. This isn’t always obvious. You may have employees who are happy to volunteer their own observations and solutions, but others aren’t so forthcoming. Open the door for feedback. Even a simple “How can I help you do your job better” may uncover solutions you hadn’t considered. Be open to these answers.

Constructive employee feedback should be part of every workplace. At That’s Good HR, we stay engaged in the employee relationship even after the initial hiring process, facilitating conversations and making sure feedback is reaching the proper recipients.  Let us help you with your next staffing challenge. Reach out now to talk about solutions.