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    How to Provide Constructive Feedback to Staff & Coworkers


    “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates.

    Constructive feedback is a critical part of any successful workplace. Knowing how to deliver constructive comments can help your staff or coworkers learn and grow in their roles while strengthening the company culture. The key to ensuring managers use feedback constructively is to develop best practices that encourage learning without demoralizing those on the receiving end.

    What is Feedback?

    Feedback is the process of providing information and evaluation about an employee’s, attitude, performance or actions. It involves giving clear and specific observations, highlighting strengths and areas of improvement.

    What is the Purpose of Feedback

    Feedback aims to address, improve or correct workplace performance, attitude, or behaviors, to help individuals achieve personal and organizational goals. 

    Why Must Feedback Be Constructive?

    Feedback must be constructive because it focuses on identifying areas for improvement while providing guidance and support. Constructive feedback helps individuals develop skills, boosts motivation, and fosters a positive learning environment. 

    Types of Feedback 

    “Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work.” – Tom Rath. 

    Formal Feedback: Formal feedback refers to feedback that is structured, planned, and typically delivered in a formal setting, such as performance reviews or scheduled meetings. It follows a predefined process and often involves documented assessments and evaluations. 

    Informal Feedback: Informal feedback is casual and spontaneous input in day-to-day interactions without a formal process. It provides immediate guidance, recognition, or information to individuals or teams. 

    Positive Feedback: Positive feedback acknowledges and reinforces someone’s strengths, achievements, or behaviors that have had a positive impact. It aims to motivate, boost confidence, and recognize exemplary performance. 

    Negative Feedback: Negative feedback addresses areas where improvement is needed by pointing out shortcomings, mistakes, or areas for development. It aims to provide constructive criticism and guide individuals towards better performance or behavior. 

    Encouragement: Encouragement refers to providing support, motivation, and positive reinforcement to someone. It involves offering praise, recognizing efforts, and inspiring confidence to help individuals persevere, grow, and achieve their goals. 

    Discouragement: Discouragement is feedback that undermines motivation, confidence, or enthusiasm. It can involve criticism without guidance, lack of recognition, or demotivating comments that hinder an individual’s progress or performance. 

    “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A. Clark. 

    When should Feedback be Used?

    Constructive feedback can be used in many situations to provide specific and effective communication about behaviors, attitudes, and their impact on the work environment. The Situational-Behavior-Impact (SBI) model is a concise and nonjudgmental approach to providing feedback. The SBI focuses on the following three components when delivering feedback:

      1. Use feedback to discuss specific situations or contexts that needs to be addressed. Outlining the situation provides a precise reference point for the input.
      2. Specific behaviors need to be discussed. Communicating behaviors you have directly observed is vital, avoiding assumptions or subjective judgments.
      3. The impact of the person’s behavior on you, the team, or the organization needs to be highlighted. Use subjective statements to describe how the behavior has affected others, emphasizing the importance of finding positive solutions.

    An essential aim of constructive feedback is to encourage employees and coworkers to understand the impact and intent behind their behavior. This can lead to a useful coaching conversation and uncover any false assumptions. 

    Providing Constructive Feedback

    “Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo.

    Tips for Providing Constructive Feedback

    Before delivering feedback, take the time to prepare by collecting specific examples that illustrate the areas for improvement or issues you want to address. This will help you provide concrete and actionable feedback. The following tips will ensure that feedback remains constructive and professional:

      1. When delivering feedback, provide context by explaining how the employee’s performance impacts the team and the organization’s objectives. Use specific examples to demonstrate the consequences of their actions or behaviors.
      2. Aim to deliver feedback tactfully. Be honest and direct, avoiding vague language that may not convey the seriousness of the issue. Clearly articulate the problem and its impact on performance and reputation.
      3. Have face-to-face or video meetings whenever possible rather than relying solely on written communication. In-person or virtual sessions allow for better communication, including non-verbal cues, and promote a more engaging and productive discussion.
      4. Offer solutions and guidance to help the employee rectify the issue. Offer clear advice on what actions they can take to improve, whether it’s additional training, more frequent direction, or process improvements.
      5. Make the feedback session a two-way conversation, allowing the employee to share their perspective and any challenges they may be facing. Listen actively and be open to their input. Consider scheduling a follow-up meeting to discuss progress and provide ongoing support. 

    DOS & DON’Ts When Providing Constructive Feedback


    • Listen actively without interruption, focusing on understanding.
    • Be aware of your body language and tone, showing interest and attentiveness.
    • Provide specific examples and actionable advice to make feedback more meaningful.
    • Offer a balanced perspective, highlighting both strengths and areas for growth.
    • Follow up on feedback, offering ongoing support and opportunities for further discussion.


    • Don’t interrupt or dismiss the person giving feedback; listen and respect their viewpoint.
    • Avoid negative body language or a dismissive tone that may discourage open communication.
    • Refrain from saying vague or general comments; be specific and provide concrete examples.
    • Avoid focusing solely on weaknesses; acknowledge and reinforce strengths as well.
    • Pay attention to follow-up or provide ongoing support after giving feedback. 

    “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk.

    Finding the right way to offer feedback can help foster a positive environment and cultivate meaningful growth. Unlike criticism, constructive feedback allows for learning without damaging organizational morale. By following these best practices for delivering constructive feedback, it is possible to develop healthier working relationships that positively shape workplace attitudes and enhance organizational performance.

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