Constructive Feedback

By Amber Cooper, MHRM
Every manager has been there.  One of their team isn’t meeting expectations, or has done something that requires them to have the “difficult” conversation with them.
There are many reasons a manager/owner may hesitate giving constructive feedback – they may be “friends” with their team members, they may be fearful of the reaction, or they may not have the time (to name a few).  Whatever the reason, the implications of not providing feedback far outweigh that moment or two of discomfort delivering the feedback.  Specifically, your team member may impact your customers with their continuing performance issue, the resentment might grow in you  and lead to a less calm discussion and, perhaps most importantly, you are not providing your team member with valuable information that will support their development.
When applying the principle of “help first”, think of what that means to your own team.  We all want solid performers working for us.  Often that requires you, as an owner or manager, to support your team in getting to that performance level.
To help you in delivering that message, think about providing factual feedback, not judgmental feedback.  A simple model for delivering constructive feedback is as follows:

  •         Describe the current behavior
  •         Describe the impact of the behavior
  •         Identify alternative behaviors
  •         Listen (what are their concerns, ask them to summarize back next steps to ensure understanding and offer ongoing support/ confidence in them)

An example, rather than:
Your coaching of that class was crappy today (Judgement, not specific, what does crappy mean, what do you want them to do)
Try instead:
Sally, today I noticed you lacked enthusiasm and energy in your class.  When you lack enthusiasm, and don’t engage, customers can see that and they were losing interest because they see your lack of interest.  If you aren’t feeling energized at the beginning of class what are some things you can do to get focused?  What has worked for me is……  I’ve seen you do this before so I’m confident you can do it; Let’s discuss what happened today and what actions you can take to prevent this in the future.
Re-framing the way you think of constructive feedback to being helpful to your team, as opposed to scary or difficult, will help you make these conversations much more natural and easy to have – In addition to ensuring your people are performing to their full potential.


One more thing!

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