Earlier this week I facilitated a three-hour workshop called Developing My People. In the session, we talked a lot about feedback. We discussed the benefits of both positive and constructive feedback which are:
- Positive feedback reinforces the behaviour that you would like to be repeated. For example, someone taking initiative, going the extra mile on a project or assisting a colleague who obviously needs help.
- Constructive feedback mitigates behaviour that is ineffective. This is critically important especially when an individual is unaware of the impact that their behaviour is having on the people around them.
While having this discussion, one of my clients shared some great advice regarding constructive feedback. She said,
“When I am thinking about giving constructive feedback, I ask myself: Are they doing the task incorrectly or are they just not doing it my way?”
I love her perspective!! It provides a really good filter to determine whether or not the feedback is necessary. Sometimes we are just feeling frustrated because we think our way is better or more efficient. In actual fact, because people all think and process information differently, their way may actually be more efficient for them. I suggest that you look at the big picture. Consider if the person is achieving the desired outcome of the project. If so, let them accomplish the task their way.
However, if the individual is not achieving the desired outcome, this is definitely an opportunity for you to provide them with some constructive feedback. When doing so, it is important not to use language like “wrong way” or “ineffective”. This type of language is judgemental and might cause the individual to shut down and not be open to your feedback. Rather, take the judgemental language out of the feedback process and focus on the person’s behaviour. Here are some examples:
- Use of judgemental language: You are not doing this task correctly. This is how you do it.
- Use of language focused on behaviour: When you do the task this way the outcome is… Rather, do it this way so that the outcome will be…
See the difference? I strongly believe that people are open to constructive feedback and in many cases, crave it. People want to be doing a good job at work. As a leader, it is important that you do not shy away from giving it. Rather, consider your language and your intention and provide constructive feedback in a thoughtful way. This is how you will enhance your team’s performance and keep people engaged.