Providing constructive feedback is a lot like growing your own organic kale from seed or getting up at 04:00 every day to meditate before jogging to CrossFit - we know it’s a thing because other people keep talking about it, but getting to grips with it ourselves can seem like a tall order. Surely they’re making it up? Are humans even physically capable of attaining that level of virtuousness?
Happily, it’s far easier to learn the ins and outs of providing constructive criticism instead of negative feedback during employee performance discussions than it is to get kale to sprout in your window sill (seriously - the latter takes the patience of a saint!). It all boils down to positive VS negative reinforcement.
Here are a 5 top tips from inside the bountiXP camp to get you started:
1. Be specific - zone in on the issue straight off the bat
There is a lot to be said to getting straight to the point instead of beating around the bush. If you need to tackle a less-than-awesome issue like punctuality, attendance or a failure to perform, let your employee know what’s cooking straight away. No one likes to sit around guessing why they’ve been called to the principal's office, after all.
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2. Tackle the situation (not the person)
Once you've ripped off the bandaid, take care to centre your feedback around the actual problem at hand (e.g. customers are kept waiting) instead of hammering away at their behaviour. The best type of constructive feedback is that which focuses on behaviour, not an individual's personality. When you focus on how the situation affects the business it's a lot simpler to work out actionable steps to improve their performance.
3. Don't waste any time
Strike while the iron is hot - this goes for praise as well as admonishment. If someone performs well, make a point of providing recognition and reward while their achievement is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Similarly, if an employee’s behaviour is not on point, address it immediately so they may recalibrate as they go. In certain situations you may need to take some time to cool off so you can provide objective feedback instead of Hulking out, but overall it’s best to say your piece sooner rather than later.
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4. Buck up and do it in person
While it can be tempting to use tech like email or text message to convey difficult feedback, this is seldom a good idea. Without the context of tone there is so much scope for misinterpretation - something can come across a lot more serious (or less important!) than it actually is. Take the time to book a quiet space where you can have a frank and informal conversation with the employee in question. Also provide them with the opportunity to respond, express their ideas and become a part of the solution.
5. Leverage appreciation and concern
Delivering positive feedback? Dial up the appreciation, and be specific to add some punch to it, e.g. 'David, thank you very much for landing us a new client; we really appreciate all the legwork your team did to learn more about their project requirements and the time it took to craft your stellar presentation'. In negative feedback situations, try to convey a sense of concern rather than anger, frustration, or (heaven forbid!) sarcasm. Focus on the correction of behaviour and improvement of performance rather than delivering a message that is clouded in the noise of disappointment and harshness.
So there you have it - five tried and tested strategies that will enable you to provide constructive feedback that will boost motivation among your company’s employees.
Next time those performance reviews roll around, zone in on the issue straight off the bat, address the situation instead of the person, provide timely feedback, deliver the message in person, remember to leverage appreciation and concern, and get ready to watch those employee performance levels skyrocket.
In the meantime why don't you download our eBook on how to build a successful employee recognition program that your employees will love. Click on the image below to download your FREE copy 👇