Constructive feedback, whether positive or negative, is one of the best things a manager can give and is vital to any employee’s ongoing development.
However, the caveat here is that feedback must be delivered the right way to be effective, otherwise, you risk damaging the relationship with an employee and, in some cases, can lead to staff turnover.
To ensure that you are providing the right level of support and encouragement to your teams, have a look at this guide which explores the importance of delivering effective feedback, the AID (Action, Impact, Desired Outcome) model, and the ways of delivering feedback effectively.
Why Is Employee Feedback So Important?
Providing employees with feedback is a vital tool for continued learning and improvement. Not only is feedback, whether positive or negative, pivotal in enabling employees to capitalise on their strengths, but it can also support employees in becoming more effective in their work by increasing awareness, understanding and engagement.
Ongoing feedback can promote two-way communication in the workplace by giving employees the confidence and support to effectively provide feedback to management and peers regarding tools, processes and general wellbeing within the workplace.
Action, Impact, Desired Outcome
While there is a vast selection of feedback models available, I do find that the ‘AID’ model (Action, Impact, Desired Outcome) offers the most effective guidance for preparing and structuring your conversation.
The ‘Action’ aspect of the AID model acknowledges the performance of your employee and what feedback you would like to discuss. You’ll need to identify the behaviours displayed by your employee and try to limit the feedback to avoid your key message becoming diluted.
Whether positive or negative, you should try to pinpoint the impact of their actions and how this affects the wider team, other departments and those externally, if applicable. At this point, it can be a good idea to source supporting evidence to demonstrate this impact.
The purpose of providing feedback is to enhance performance and motivate your employees to continue behaviours or to understand the behaviours they should adopt in order to make a positive change. If feedback is negative, you should put emphasis on what is missing and how to improve rather than pinpointing what was incorrect.
This final stage is crucial in determining what happens next and what needs to change going forwards.
How to Give Positive Employee Feedback
Give Positive Context First
When providing feedback, the most important factor is how you communicate it as this can affect how the feedback is perceived. Even if feedback isn’t positive, always ensure that the employee knows it’s not all bad by providing positive feedback to counterbalance the more negative feedback. What I suggest to managers and leaders is to explain to an employee how they did well, what they didn’t do so well, and what can be improved.
Employees are far more likely to accept feedback and take it on board if they are also given positive feedback in the same instance. This reminds them ‘it’s not all bad!’.
Feedback needs to be factual and to the point. Using real-life examples of positive/negative behaviours (rather than vague observations) can support employees in relating to the feedback and taking it on board.
Constructive and Unbiased
Feedback, when negative, can sometimes feel unfair to an employee and as if they are being targeted by managers. It’s best to avoid taking sides and aim to be fair in your approach.
Using the approach of ‘next time’ gives employees a fair chance to improve and learn from their mistakes and errors, something that is crucial in personal and professional development.
Describe the Impact of Mistakes
While giving feedback helps employees to understand what they have done wrong (or right), they may sometimes be unaware of the negative (or positive) consequences and repercussions of their actions.
Describing the impact of behaviours, whether good or bad, can lead to employees taking feedback onboard more effectively as they will understand your reasoning and why it cannot happen again – or why the employee should continue demonstrating these behaviours if feedback is positive.
Provide Feedback Immediately (and Regularly)
Feedback must be given on time and soon after these behaviours or actions are observed. Otherwise, this feedback may be ineffective when praising or providing solutions for next time. Ideally, feedback should be given within 1-2 days of behaviours/actions being observed. Give yourself enough time to prepare your constructive approach, so your feedback isn’t too emotive, but don’t leave it so long that the impact or memory of the situation is too blurred.
Work With the Employee
Finally, employees need to learn that you are working with them, and not against them. When delivering negative or neutral feedback, work with your employees to identify areas of improvement and how you, as a manager, can support them next time. For example, providing training to allow them to better approach the task at hand in the future, or eliminating issues that might be getting in the way.
Evolve Your Feedback Strategy
If you aren’t sure of how to structure or effectively deliver feedback to your employees, you may benefit from using an HR consultant who will be able to evolve your feedback strategy and show you the correct ways to communicate with employees to support you in delivering performance feedback effectively.
If you would like to better understand how to deliver feedback in the workplace, please feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help.