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One of the hardest challenges you may face as a manager is giving constructive feedback to your employees. However, if you follow some simple guidelines, you can make feedback sessions useful rather than stressful.

Effective feedback comprises five key elements:

1. Deliver feedback immediately. Instant feedback will allow the employee to modify his/her behaviour immediately. If there was an incident that prompted the feedback, it will be fresh in everyone’s mind.

2. Praise and then provide suggestions for improvement. It is critical to begin each feedback session by praising the employee’s accomplishments. Then, make a conscious effort to give constructive feedback and suggestions that will help your employee(s) improve their quality of work, rather than just criticising their work.

3. Be specific and make positive statements. Specific feedback is more likely to resonate with employees instead of vague allusions or accusations. Instead of saying, “You make too many mistakes,” or “Costs are too high,” rephrase your statements to say, “I would like you to reduce your error rate,” or “Let’s aim to reduce costs by 25%.”

4. Focus on improvement. Remember to focus on improvement instead of just criticising. Talk about how you would like to see things done instead of focusing on the things you don’t like. Let your employees know that you have confidence in their ability to improve.

5. Invite employee response. After you deliver feedback, invite the employee to respond. Listen to what s/he has to say. There may be circumstances you were unaware of. You may need to investigate resource problems or process issues. You can learn a lot if you give the employee a chance to talk openly.

Remember, effective feedback can build employee confidence and help improve quality of output. When appropriate feedback is delivered at the right time, employees have timely and specific information about how to change the way they work. If done in the right manner, feedback can be empowering rather than demoralising.

– Ali Anis and Mazhar Lari
The writers are Lead Consultants and Trainers at
Change180. info@thechange180.com

First published on January 15, 2012 in the Careers Section of the DAWN National Advertiser.