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CareersProviding constructive feedback to employees is a challenge that managers face on a daily basis. To do so, you should clearly communicate your concerns about the issues at hand without demotivating or offending your team members.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when giving feedback:

1. Create the right atmosphere. If you maintain cordial relationships with your team members, they will generally be open to receiving and absorbing feedback – whether it is positive or negative.

2. Conduct a private session. Praise your employees in public if they have performed well, but do not criticise them in the presence of other people. Schedule a private meeting if you have to criticise their work or discuss a sensitive issue. This will ensure that the employee is receptive to receiving feedback. Remember, have the conversation when the issue that you need to discuss is still fresh in your and the employee’s mind.

3. Be clear and to the point. Lack of clarity not only confuses people but also lessens the impact of what you say, so don’t beat around the bush. Remember to avoid using statements such as “You always…” or “You never…” Instead, use statements such as “I have observed…” or “I have noticed…” Use impartial language so your feedback does not sound like criticism and avoid being sarcastic or angry.

4. Cushion the blow. Negative comments should ideally be accompanied with positive ones. Use statements such as: “I know you are a perfectionist, but certain tasks don’t require a lot of time” or “Your work is great, but you need to focus a little more on…”

5. Hear them out. Give employees the chance to speak their mind about the issue at hand; listen attentively and keep notes. People are more receptive to criticism and willing to change if they are satisfied that their side of the story is also heard.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on November 3, 2013.