Constructive Feedback

A supportive communication tool to address specific issues or concerns

What is Constructive Feedback?

Constructive feedback is supportive feedback given to individuals to help identify solutions to areas of weakness they may have. Therefore, it comes with positive intentions and is used as a supportive communication tool to address specific issues or concerns.

Constructive Feedback - Example

Purpose of Constructive Feedback

The purpose of constructive feedback is to give feedback to an individual in a way that will lead to improvements or corrections. This is important, as it enhances personal and professional growth in individuals.

For example, constructive feedback can:

  • Improve employee morale
  • Reduce confusion regarding expectations and current performance
  • Provide a new perspective and give valuable insight to the person receiving feedback
  • Positively impact an individual’s behavior

Making Feedback Constructive

It is important to be able to differentiate between constructive feedback and destructive feedback. Destructive feedback points at faults and is a direct attack on the individual. In destructive feedback, no practical advice or supportive feedback is given.

Examples of destructive feedback include:

  • “You’re wrong.”
  • “That is not how you do things around here.”
  • “You have no idea what you are doing.”

Here are some tips for making feedback constructive:

1. Focus on observation and not inference

Constructive feedback should relate to what you can see or hear about that person’s behavior rather than making assumptions and interpretations.

2. Focus on behavior and not the individual

Constructive feedback should be about what the individual did rather than who the individual is.

3. Focus on things that can be changed

Constructive feedback should be about things that a person can change and improve on rather than on something that is out of his/her control.

4. Provide recommendations and solutions

Constructive feedback should include a specific solution or recommendation.

Examples of Constructive Feedback

Consider the following examples of giving constructive feedback:

1. John has been an employee at your company for six months. Lately, he seems disengaged and not motivated to work.

A response can be:

  • “I have noticed that you don’t seem as motivated to do work as you usually do and it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. If there are reasons as to why you are feeling this way, I would love to talk with you about it. I think if we meet up once a week to check up on everything, you could be much happier.”

2. Michelle has been constantly showing up late for work.

A response can be:

  • “When you show up late to work every day, it irritates me because it feels like you are letting our team down. The hours are 9 to 3 and when you show up late to work, it has a negative impact on our team. What do you think? From now on, I really need you to arrive to work on time and change your behavior.”

3. Carol has recently taken a more back-seat role in her position as a manager.

A response can be:

  • “I noticed that you are not taking as much responsibility and initiative as you used to. It makes me feel like I have not done a good job. Did I say or do something that would make you react this way? I would love for you to address any problems or concerns you have.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Here are five steps for giving constructive feedback:

1. State the purpose of your feedback

State what you will be talking about and why it is important.

2. Describe what you have observed and your reaction

Clearly identify the action or event and how it makes you or other members feel.

3. Give the individual an opportunity to respond

After you have stated the purpose, importance, observation, and your reaction, ask the person what they think about it.

4. Offer specific suggestions or solutions

After you hear the individual out, give input as to how the situation can be improved.

5. Summarize everything discussed

Summarize everything that was discussed to avoid any misunderstandings. Also, summarizing helps ensure that the constructive feedback was communicated efficiently.

Other Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Constructive Feedback. To further enhance your knowledge and help advance your career, CFI recommends the following resources:

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