How to Give Feedback Like a Boss, Part II

Feedback has been a central focus of some of our recent posts, and for good reason. Feedback is the breakfast of champions and can be such a powerful driver towards employee growth and workplace engagement.

In our most recent post, I listed six strategies that can help leaders deliver feedback that is clear and meaningful.

Following are four more tips to help keep feedback conversations pleasant, constructive and growth-oriented.

  1. Be growth oriented – The primary purpose of feedback should not be assessment. Rather, it should be on coaching employees to grow and set new goals. Once goals are set, use them as a baseline for future conversations with a focus on how the employee is progressing towards his/her goals. If insufficient progress is being made, use the conversation to figure out why and what can be done to help get things on track. (For more about how to set “SMART” goals that drive action, click here.)

  2. Be reasonable – Even if there are many correctable items that you’d like to discuss, avoid overloading. Too much information will only dilute the conversation and reduce its effectiveness. Choose the 2-3 most important elements that require attention and leave all others alone. Less is more.

  3. Be objective – Put personal feelings aside and seek to describe the behavior, not the personality. When you see a behavior or series of behaviors that you don’t like, focus your comments there rather than on the actor’s character. For example, conversation with someone who is habitually late should focus on the person’s tardiness (“I’ve noticed that arrived late to the office six times over the past two weeks,”) rather than be used as a referendum on their character (“It seems that you struggle with time management.”) As we’ve previously discussed, adding a piece about the result (“When you are late, the rest of us need to pick up the slack while also attending to your own duties,”) can help clarify the problem and motivate change.

  4. Offer the tool as well as the observation – When you see a problem or have identified a way to improve performance, be sure to suggest a tool or useful strategy as well. For example, a colleague struggling with time management can be offered a time management tool. People most appreciate feedback that helps them solve problems and improve. Offering a tool says that you truly care and want to empower them to do their very best.