How To Give Constructive Feedback People Actually Listen To

5 min read · 6 years ago


giving constructive feedback to employees

Have you ever given feedback to an employee that they later ignored?

How do you go about giving feedback to employees that they’ll actually listen to?

I’ll share some tips with you today, but the main secret to having employees listen to your feedback is whether or not they respect you.

Respect is earned, it’s incredibly hard to get, and requires authenticity.

But if you show employees that you’re knowledgeable about the subject, your feedback will be listened to.

You could have the exact same thing said by two different people with two completely different effects.

It’s all about perception. If the employee perceives that your feedback is genuine and you probably know what you’re talking about, they’ll listen much more effectively.

But that’s only step one. Here are a few tips to help you give constructive feedback people actually listen to.

Focus On The Issue, Not The Person

A very important tip for giving constructive feedback is to remove the person from the feedback so that they don’t feel like it’s a personal attack.

Suppose we wanted to critique someone’s writing style.

Example of what not to do:
I really don’t like your writing style. Your posts are too short and they add little value to our readers.

This isn’t constructive feedback, it’s a personal attack. All you’re doing here is making the employee feel worse about themselves.

What you should say instead:
Based on research I’ve seen, blog posts with more than 2,500 words tend to perform better. Maybe we could try to make our posts a little bit longer?

You can use that extra length to go way deeper into detail, which should add more value to our readers. That would be awesome!

Not only are you focusing on the issue and not the person, you’re backing up what you’re saying with research (making you appear knowledgeable), and you’re including yourself into the issue.

When you say “maybe we could try to make our posts longer” you’re showing the employee that you’re in this with them.

As another example, suppose you wanted to give feedback to a colleague that you felt was being rude to you.

Example of what not to do:
You’re so rude. I really don’t like being around you, some of the comments you make are so insulting.

Again, this is a personal attack. While it’s an important piece of feedback to give, there’s a better way to go about this.

What you should say instead:
That time when I got that bad haircut and you said how ugly it was in front of everyone really hurt my feelings. I was feeling pretty sad for the rest of the day and I wish you would be more sensitive next time.

The reason this way is so much better is because you used a specific example and explained how sad it made you.

This allows the person receiving the feedback to empathize with you and understand where you’re coming from.

It makes receiving the feedback much easier.

Key Takeaways

  • Give feedback on the issue, not the person
  • Never make a personal attack
  • Tell the employee how it affects you
  • Be knowledgeable about what you’re saying

Make Your Feedback Specific

The key to giving meaningful feedback is to make it specific. You want to avoid being vague as that only confuses the person you’re giving feedback to and ultimately makes it seem less important.

Suppose I wanted to give someone feedback about a presentation they just did.

Example of what not to do:
Overall, good job on the presentation but I think it could have been better.

This is so vague. What was wrong with it? Plus, just because you didn’t like it, does it necessarily mean it was bad? How could it have been better?

What you should say instead:
Honestly, great job on the presentation! I really liked how you used animations to make your point about our Facebook marketing.

One small comment, maybe for next time, would be to put a few more statistics in there. Try and make it a bit more visual, I think it will have more of an effect.

This is a great way to give someone feedback. If I had received this exact piece of feedback I wouldn’t be insulted at all. It’s specific and it makes a lot of sense.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t be subjective. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean it isn’t good
  • Have specific recommendations
  • Give a positive comment
  • Using words like “next time” makes it seem like we’re always trying to get better at what we do

Make Feedback A Positive Thing

Feedback is one of the most important parts of having better, more productive employees. The problem is, the word “feedback” usually has a negative association.

The reason for this is because most of our experience with feedback has been about criticism instead of improvement.

When an employee hears their manager say “I have some feedback for you” the first thought in their mind is “Oh boy.”

As a manager, if you approach the feedback process from an angle of coaching and genuinely trying to make an employee better, you’ll be much more successful.

Use The IDEALS Technique

In the book Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More, author Mark Murphy developed a technique for giving more effective feedback.

IDEALS is a six-step process to go through when giving employee feedback.

  1. Invite – Invite them to have a conversation with you, and give them a choice about when the meeting will take place. “Do you have a few minutes now? Or is later this afternoon better?”
  2. Disarm – Don’t criticize the employee, talk about the issue. Stay calm and make sure to use a neutral or positive tone of voice.
  3. Eliminate Blame – Playing the blame game doesn’t work for anybody. Instead of focusing on blaming the employee, work on finding a solution.
  4. Affirm Their Control – It’s important to make the employee feel like they’re in control. Regularly ask the employee if they agree with what you’re saying
  5. List Corrections – List specific recommendations for them to improve, and clearly explain why you’re saying this.
  6. Synchronize – Make sure that it is a collaborative effort. Ask the employee how you can help make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Start With Why

If you want make sure that your intentions are good and you’ll be giving meaningful feedback, you want to take a step back and remember why you’re giving feedback in the first place.

It’s to help someone get better at what they do.

In Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk he talks about the power of starting with why:

But if you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do.

The goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe.

I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

Any Tips To Share?

What are some tips you have for giving constructive feedback that people actually listen to?

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How To Give Constructive Feedback People Actually Listen To

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