Tips for giving feedback in the workplace

December 17, 2010

In the workplace, feedback is an integral component of communication, yet one often overlooked. That is because most people dread feedback — both receiving it and giving it. As a result, certain mistakes persist solely due to the lack of proper feedback and breakdown in communication.

It is important to create an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to contribute feedback in an effort to minimize problems and mistakes. To that end, we have gathered five tips for giving feedback that will help you and your employees open the floodgates of communication.

Be specific, balanced and fair. The point of giving feedback is to elicit improvement or reinforce good behavior. That means your feedback cannot be vague or generic. The key to effective feedback is specificity. When giving feedback, go into detail. Cite accurately what did or did not work and offer suggestions where appropriate.

Don’t skimp on positive feedback. Negative feedback tends to be more common than positive feedback. For this very reason, it is important that you find and praise the good your employees do from day to day — even if it is something small. A little praise can go a long way.

No news is NOT good news. A common misconception among managers is that if they are not yelling or criticizing their employees, they should know that they are doing a good job. This simply is not true. From time to time, you will have to have a stern conversation with an employee, but in the interim, you should make the effort to actively support your team with positive comments on their job performance.

Shoulder some of the responsibility. In other words, accept a small degree of blame when offering feedback. Using phrases such as “maybe I didn’t explain this up front” or “maybe I didn’t explain this well enough” is a good way to soften the blow. As a result, your employees will be more receptive to your feedback instead of being discouraged by it.

Come to an agreement on issues. If you are dispensing negative feedback, that means there is a problem or issue you wish to address. In these situations, it is imperative that both parties come to an agreement about the issue and that the feedback be an attempt to remedy things. Make sure the focus is on the situation that needs to be corrected rather than criticizing the person. A one-sided scolding will only sour an employee’s mood, and certainly won’t fix any problems.

Good feedback that benefits your employees requires more than a simple “good job” and a pat on the back, or a vague conversation that things should have been “handled better.” At the end of the business day, regular, positive feedback is extremely important to your employees. While positive feedback seems to be more challenging for most leaders to dispense, its value to morale is truly immeasurable.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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