How to give Effective feedback to employees Without Causing Offense

Effective feedback

Employee feedback can be really unnerving for project managers. But clever leaders maintain a balance between constructive criticism & praise.

One of the core responsibilities of project managers is to give feedback to their employees. However, giving feedback is a sensitive process. A positive feedback can improve the performance of an employee, while a negative feedback may lead to a lack of motivation, anger, and most importantly deteriorate the relationship with the employee.

Feedback is often labeled as a negative personality analysis. And if not properly executed, it can wreak havoc on the performance of employees. However, an optimistic leader has the propensity to communicate vis-a-vis with their staff and provide advice & useful insights without even exposing them to emotional frustration or crush their self-esteem.

63% of employees assert that an inherent failure to recognize achievements and sort out the crème-de-la-crème of the office, keeps their leaders from being effective. And 39% singled out their manager’s failure to provide constructive criticism, often taking on a reproachful and offensive tone.

Giving feedback to employees come in the territory of managing people. Here are some actionable ways to give positive feedback to your employees which can help them improve upon their work.

Start with a positive note

Always start by appreciating an employee for their valuable contributions to the company and all the positive things you see in them. Sharing that improvement is a constant process. There is always room for expansion. Define the problem, where they went wrong, and what they can do to improve.

Give examples of what didn’t work and how it could be done better. Work together to agree upon an action plan with regularly scheduled check-ins so that the employee feels supported and encouraged going forward, rather than feeling trodden upon and undervalued.

Ample research has shown that a negative and harsh feedback impacts the performance of the employees six times more than a positive one. But starting the feedback on an optimistic note can jump-start the conversation in an affirmative tone.

Be specific & focus on the resolution

Now you need to focus on being specific & what can be done. The best approach is to ask the employees for the solution, instead of giving them a ready-made road map. If they can make some suggestions, factor them in. This will make your employees feel special. If you have a better idea, discuss it with them. Do not impose your propositions on them, simply because you can. Weigh down your options and work together towards the resolution.

Don’t wait for the right moment

There is no such thing as an ideal moment to give feedback. Timely feedback is what you need to work. Most managers wait for the right moment to confront their employees. Sorry to break your bubble, but the right moment doesn’t exist. Don’t wait for the annual appraisals or things to go too far astray before you work up the courage to provide feedback. If there is something that needs to be said, your employees reserve the right to hear it from you.

Not everybody prefers a positive feedback

While it is a much touted fact that negative feedback negatively affects the performance of employees, a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that giving positive feedback is a great strategy for novice employees only, since they have just stepped into their careers and their morale is already shaky.

For proficient veterans, positive feedback is akin to treating them delicately like novice workers who still have a lot to learn. So, for experienced professionals, you can get straight down to negative feedback. This can help them pinpoint where they need improvement and start working on that area straight away, rather than beating around the bushes.

Criticize the work, not the person

Stick to the facts and avoid making assumptions. If an employee has recently taken to failure to deliver and missing deadlines, address the behavior with them directly, keeping an open mind. They may be in the throes of a family emergency or issue that you are oblivious to and criticizing them harshly can ring badly. Confronting the issue head-on can help address the problem instead of letting it fester.

Appreciate, but keep it Separate from criticism

Even the most talented employees need a positive boost or a word of praise every now and then. Studies have shown that effective managers maintain a balance of 5 to 1, meaning, five compliments for every one censure. To ensure that your criticism is properly heeded, you need to keep praise and criticism separate however, lest your employees get ahead of themselves and gloat in all the acclaim, overlooking the mistakes they are making.

Offer feedback, and give space to process the information

If you think your criticism will be rather hard to digest, consider giving the person the rest of the afternoon off to process the information. A study suggests that even top performers are vulnerable to setbacks.

To bottle it up

As Richard Branson has put it, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

You need to be honest with the feedback. Be quick in letting your employees know what went wrong, and even quicker in praising them in public. As a leader, it is your responsibility to understand the needs of your team. To highlight their strengths and help them work on their weaknesses.

Use the above strategies to praise and criticize your employees in a timely manner.