A Complete Guide to Giving Constructive Feedback

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What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback can be best viewed as a series of actions that assist employees and team members in altering their behaviour in order to accomplish their goals.

If you ensure that the feedback you give is constructive, your suggestions are less likely to be ignored and your critiques are more likely to be well received.

The four types of feedback that constructive feedback is comprised of:

Constructive feedback can be divided into four core categories of separation. These four types of feedback include positive feedback, negative feedback, motivating feedback and correcting feedback.

Four Types of Feedback

Constructive feedback combines all four areas of feedback into a cohesive practise, ensuring that the major downsides of positive and negative feedback are counteracted by the utilization of corrective and motivating feedback.

1. Positive feedback

Positive feedback is by far the easiest type of feedback to give. Most managers and leaders need no instruction on how to give positive feedback, as they tend to give and receive this type of feedback relatively often. In some corporate cultures, positive feedback is seen as simple politeness.

Yet, positive feedback can lose all meaning if it is given too freely or frequently, leading it to be seen as disingenuous if it is too vague or superfluous. Finally, in some cases, positive feedback may even cultivate a mindset of distrust, particularly if the feedback is only given to soften the blow of a critical assessment. Candour and honesty are the most sought after qualities in communication regardless of status in an organization’s hierarchy.

2. Negative feedback

Often, when people hear the term “constructive feedback” what they really imagine is negative feedback. Negative feedback is important to give at times, yet in most cases, it is too frequently given when correcting feedback is what is really required.

Negative feedback is often honest, to the point, and sometimes emotional. Negative feedback can spiral into the personal domain and often results in defensive posturing from its target. Finally, negative feedback is stressful for all parties involved, so must be utilized in very few instances. To deliver negative feedback successfully it is best to keep the focus on facts over opinions, drain the situation of emotion and be as clear with the facts as possible.

3. Correcting feedback

Correcting feedback is the sort of feedback you want when you are unsure of yourself or your task. Correcting feedback identifies the mechanisms and nature of past mistakes and where they stemmed from (communication, instructions, human error, etc.).

Correcting feedback guides its recipient back onto the path required of them and suggests areas for improvement. Correcting feedback is gentle, specific, and direct. If correcting feedback fails, then it may be time for negative feedback. Using questions to lead the recipient of the feedback in the direction of solutions is a good approach to build buy-in to the new direction.

4. Motivating feedback

Motivating feedback is sincere, direct, and specific. Motivating feedback rewards jobs well done and reinforces areas of strength.

Unlike positive feedback, motivating feedback does not allow its recipient to rest on his or her laurels– instead, it acts as a call to action and rewards and reinvigorates its subject.
Motivating feedback should also identify areas for growth, particularly in relation to current and previous areas of excellence. It is really important that motivating feedback isn’t given as a strategy to engender goodwill, rather recognize achievement sincerely.

Who needs constructive feedback?

Everyone needs constructive feedback. From those at top of their games and companies to interns and part-time workers, every member of your team or organization can benefit from properly granted constructive feedback.

When asked whether corrective feedback or praise and recognition had been most helpful in their career, a majority of responders answered that it was constructive feedback that assisted them most.

As such, managers and entrepreneurs must remember that it doesn’t matter how small or large your team or organization is. Each and every member will benefit from constructive feedback, granted it is given in the correct situations and settings.

Great leaders, coaches and teachers use this to help their team raise the collective standard of work.

Situations that require constructive feedback:

When asked how often feedback is a surprise, 2/3rds of employees responded that the majority of the time the feedback they received from their managers and teammates was not a surprise. This means that in many cases, individuals know the quality of their work, be it good or bad, as well as what other members of their organization think of their work.

What constructive feedback fixes better than any other type of feedback is informing and helping to coach better results for the 1/3rd of responders who were surprised at the correcting or negative feedback they received from their managers and teammates.

These individuals represent the greatest opportunities for improvement from constructive feedback.

Although the view that one should give praise in public and criticize in private is widespread, there are certainly cases where entire teams or sectors can benefit from group settings of constructive feedback. Transparency is an amazing tool for buy-in, and helps to construct an atmosphere of honesty and trust. Criticism and praise in public both towards team members and leaders helps to build transparent and trusting cultures.

If something like a failure in communication has occurred in one case, chances are it has occurred in others. Thus, although feedback is best-given one-on-one, there are particular cases where it can and should be given in group settings. Once the situation is more understood, then a public acknowledgement of the result is more appropriate to be public.

Take our course on giving Coaching Based Performance Reviews and learn how to give constructive feedback today!

How to give, receive, and implement constructive feedback:

Giving Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback:

When giving constructive feedback, you should first state its purpose. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.

Then move on to describing your reactions in a direct and objective way, tell your subject what prompted you. This ensures an environment of transparency and trust.

Next, move on to reinforcing the strengths of your subject. By ensuring that you begin the process on a positive tone, you are creating an excellent space for your feedback to be considered and implemented.

After, grant your suggestions utilizing specific actions that should be taken in the future. Finally, ensure that you summarize any recommendations, positive, negative, correcting, or motivating feedback given so that it is remembered.

Receiving constructive feedback:

When receiving constructive feedback, we must remember to keep an open mind and remember that it is not about character, it is about behaviour. Remember to be calm and ensure you do not respond defensively.

Be receptive to advice and always evaluate the situation for learning opportunities.
Be curious and grateful for the opportunity to improve your performance and reach your goals.

Implementing constructive feedback:

Break down the constructive feedback given to you into key deliverables.
Ensure that you fully understand the comments, advice, or feedback granted and can identify it is positive, negative, correcting or motivating.

Executive Summary of constructive feedback:

Constructive feedback should be given if errors are occurring, unresolved problems persist, your opinion is solicited, or when performance is not meeting expectations.

When giving, receiving, or implementing constructive feedback remember to act as a guide and be focused and direct in your feedback.

Ensure that you are not asking too much at one time and do not make comparisons with other outcomes or team members.


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