Giving feedback is vital when you’re trying to build your team and improve your business. But it’s tough, right? I bet you’ve been there before.  An issue has arisen with a particular team member’s piece of work. The work either isn’t up-to-scratch, or it’s not what you expected them to deliver. So, you approach this team member to discuss the issue. What do you say next?

If you are like most people you are not comfortable giving feedback. You likely didn’t prepare how you’re going to deliver it. Which could make you struggle to get your point across to the team member. Even worse, you risk upsetting this particular team member. That could lead to them becoming demotivated and less productive as a result of how you delivered the feedback. I’ve experienced issues with feedback many times both receiving and giving it. Eventually, I realized there are a few things that are essential to giving feedback in a proper way — ensuring that it actually helps the recipient and motivates them to do better.


Empathize With Team Members

Instead of jumping to criticize employees for their mistakes or wrongdoings, understand that it isn’t necessarily always their fault. As the employer, it would be best if you took some responsibility for a project not going as planned. There may be a fault on your part by not giving enough clarity or clear instructions before tasks started.

You should look closer at what you could have done better to ensure errors are minimized and to make sure that all team members understand exactly what they need to do in order to complete a task to your expectation. That said, other times, it might be the employee’s fault, in which case, you need to try and address the situation as quickly as possible.


Give Feedback ASAP

You should try to give feedback while it’s still fresh in your mind and the mind of your team members. Addressing the issues as quickly as possible is ideal as it helps individuals better understand where they went wrong, so they can correct the issue straight away. 

Whereas, if you delay giving feedback, it may not be taken on board properly, as team members may be focusing on completely different tasks and they probably won’t try to correct the problem or take note. 


Give Feedback Privately

It’s important that you always seek to give feedback in private if possible. It would be best if you avoided correcting and giving feedback to a team member in front of other employees, as it could potentially be humiliating for the individual who’s receiving feedback.

Aside from not embarrassing a team member in front of other employees, speaking to an individual in private will give that particular person more confidence to ask questions about the particular issue and if there’s anything they could do better next time.


Follow up on feedback

Be sure to always follow up on the feedback you have given to your team members. You don’t necessarily have to do this daily, but a weekly or monthly check-in to see how your team has applied what you have given them.

See if they’re following the instructions you gave them, and if not, ask them how you could improve your instructions to be a lot clearer. If your employees are following the feedback given to them, always make sure to give praise. 


Give praise when feedback is followed

Giving praise when feedback is followed is crucial, as it helps reinforce the positive action taken by your team members. It can be as simple as a comment on how much a particular piece of work looks compared to how it looked prior to the feedback.  This can have a major, positive impact on your business, as many studies now show that giving employees recognition of their efforts is more of a motivator than paying them more.


Don’t Blame the Person, Blame the Scenario

When discussing feedback try to talk about the problem as if it’s a third party that you and the employee need to look at improving. If you make an individual the subject of a particular issue, it can come across like you’re attacking their character — which results in them feeling demotivated. It could seriously harm their confidence in their skills and ability to complete tasks.

So, be sure to point out mistakes, but don’t insinuate that it’s the person’s ability or character that’s at fault. Always look at problematic scenarios as something you can both work on together to address and fix.


Always Give Positive Feedback

As well as constructive criticisms, seek to give positive feedback. When an employee delivers a really good piece of work, be sure to tell them that you appreciated their work.

It would be a good idea to also tell them why you thought it was good. This will help boost their confidence in completing specific tasks, and by highlighting why you thought it was good, they will continue producing great work doing specific things really well.


Keep Feedback Points to a Minimum 

If you overload your team with feedback, almost all of it won’t get taken on board. For feedback to be properly taken on board, it is important that employees can take each piece given and address it. If there are too many things to address, this will just create a mental overload and no meaningful change will happen.

Only give a small number of feedback points at a time — aim for a maximum of 3. Giving your team a handful of points will enable them to properly address each one and make long-term changes. 


Ask for Feedback on Your Feedback

You should constantly be looking for ways to improve how you deliver feedback.

The best place to find out how you should improve is by asking your team directly. You should ask questions like: 

  • “Is the feedback I’m giving to you clear enough?”                                   
  • “Is there any way I could give feedback in a way that makes it easier for you to understand?”
  • “How does my feedback make you feel?”

Ask your employees these questions and more and try to take an honest look at how you’re delivering feedback. 

Based on my experience, this is the most important section in this entire list. When you constantly improve how you’re giving feedback, it’s going to improve your team’s productivity massively — most notably because they will feel more supported and confident in their abilities as opposed to undermined and disrespected while working hard for your business.


Managing Your Team Effectively

Whether you have a smaller or larger team to manage, it’s important that you ensure everyone feels valued and that they’re confident in completing specific tasks. If they don’t, you should go out of your way to help them fix problems that they can’t resolve themselves. 

Feedback is crucial. It’s how we develop and grow our skills, which ultimately helps to drive the growth of our businesses. Using the tips in this list, you’ll be able to look more closely at how you’re giving it, so you can be sure your feedback is being taken on board, applied, and improves the working relationship between you and your team.

For more information on how to improve your business, read through the latest posts on the
Intentionally Inspirational blog.


Written by Lewis James