Tips for Giving Constructive Feedback at Work


Providing feedback to employees is a critical part of a manager’s role. But giving truly constructive feedback isn’t as easy as you may think. If you want your words to help drive improvement, you have to approach the conversation strategically.

Why Is Constructive Feedback Important?

People who receive thoughtful and actionable feedback can better understand how to improve their performance. And when they receive feedback that doesn’t put them on the defensive and hurt their feelings, they’re more likely to be motivated to change.

How Do I Give Constructive Feedback?

Before beginning a conversation, read through these tips on how to make your feedback as productive as possible.

  1. Talk in Private. It’s best to conduct more serious and thorough conversations one-on-one. You don’t want to embarrass someone receiving not-so-positive feedback and make them resentful or unmotivated.
  2. Highlight on the Positive. It’s been shown that positive feedback focusing on someone’s strengths and accomplishments is more effective than highlighting the negative. By pointing out employees’ talents and wins as opposed to their shortcomings, you’ll inspire them to be more engaged and productive. Of course, not all feedback is positive, but try to highlight some accolades when discussing things that need to be improved.
  3. Be Specific. Instead of making subjective, general comments, give examples of when their work failed to meet expectations. Sticking to the facts will help them feel less attacked.
  4. Focus on Change. It’s not enough to simply point out someone’s deficiencies—you want to help them react to your feedback by taking action. A big part of your conversation should be about what steps they can take to correct their performance and exactly how that will benefit them in the end.
  5. Be Emotionally Intelligent. Try to be in tune with your own emotions as well as how your feedback will impact your employee. If you’re feeling angry, you likely want to wait until you’re in a better place before having a conversation. And as you conduct the discussion, be aware of how the other person may be feeling and react in a supportive and understanding way.
  6. React in a Timely Fashion. When possible, try to provide feedback sooner than later. Letting poor performance or behavior fester only makes it more difficult to correct—and it can also impact the rest of your team. The same goes for positive feedback: If your employee does something well, make sure to point it out immediately and often.
  7. Remain Objective. A good rule of thumb is to try and avoid “you” messages. Instead of saying, “you’re not a team player,” you could say, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been assisting your coworkers lately.” This helps to keep emotions and accusatory statements out of the conversation and maintains their dignity.

Providing feedback (unless it’s a quick shout-out for positive results) should almost always be done in person, especially if it’s substantial. Coworking spaces and private offices offer areas to have one-on-one conversations. Contact us to learn more about how we can meet your office space needs.