November 15, 2010 Communication, Leadership, Management

Constructive Feedback

The main purpose of constructive feedback is to help an employee understand where they stand in relation to the expected and/or productive job behavior.  This implies that expectations were established when the employee first obtained a given position.

The feedback is especially important during the first 90 days after the employee takes on a new position.  This early feedback is essential in preventing poor patterns of behavior from developing into permanently poor patterns of behavior and ultimately terminating an employee for something that may have been prevented with constructive feedback. 

The importance of feedback in an organization is crucial to its ongoing development and growth. In the competitive environment that businesses operate in constructive feedback is essential for continuous improvement.

Employers need to give effective, constructive feedback regularly, which is what most employees want. What employees look for in feedback from employers includes positive reinforcement and acknowledgment for a job well done as well as ideas or instructions on doing their jobs better.

Effective feedback is specific, not general. (Say, “The report you turned in yesterday was well-written, however, you failed to make your points about the need for expense reduction clear.”   Vs. The report you turned in yesterday was not a good report.)

  1. Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can control and change.
  2. All comments should be based upon observable behavior and not assumed motives or intents.
  3. Positive comments should be made first in order to give the employee confidence and gain his/her attention.
  4. Language should be descriptive of specific behaviors rather than general comments indicating value judgments.
  5. Feedback should emphasize the sharing of information. There should be opportunities for both parties to contribute.
  6. Feedback should not be so detailed and broad so as to “overload” the employee.
  7. Feedback requires the ability to tolerate a feeling of discomfort.