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Constructive Feedback

Most coaching and counseling methods call for techniques to give and receive information. One of the most effective techniques is called "constructive feedback."

What is constructive feedback? It is a face-to-face conversation with an employee about something that he or she has not done well. You need to get the facts and then you can provide direction to resolve the problem.

What is required to give successful constructive feedback? Giving successful feedback requires that you:

  • have explicit, clear expectations of what should occur
  • know exactly what behavior and performance occurred and what must be done to resolve or improve the situation
  • have honest, candid, and direct face-to-face communication
  • know why the business requires a change in behavior
  • know how you will monitor the work situation to ensure that the behavior change occurs

How do you plan for it? Here's a checklist to help you plan for giving constructive feedback:

  • Do your homework - have personal knowledge of the reason to have the conversation. Allegations and rumors are not enough. Research until you have personally verified what the facts are and that you feel that action is necessary.
  • Know the person you will be speaking with well enough to predict what his or her responses will be.
  • Practice what you are going to say and in what sequence.
  • Know your own communication style, how you are perceived, and how you will react in the event of a challenge or emotional outburst.
  • Pick the location and ensure privacy.
  • Only in a true emergency should you act without thorough planning.

Because planning is so important, you'll want to have some notes with you when you give an employee constructive feedback. We've prepared a 10-step dialog for you in the Business Tools area to follow when you're face-to-face with the employee.

Business Tools

This document is a 10-step process that takes you through the process of coaching and giving constructive feedback. We've given you a few opening lines and cues to help keep the conversation flowing naturally.

There are some pitfalls to be avoided in making your constructive feedback as meaningful and effective as possible. Watch out for them!