Mastering the Art of Feedback: How to Give Constructive Criticism

building trust communication constructive criticism employee feedback productivity May 05, 2023

Feedback is an essential part of a well-functioning business because it is important to check in on how things are going and make adjustments accordingly. Not only should you learn how to receive feedback within your business, you should also make it a point to hone your skills for giving feedback. The simple truth is that you will see things differently from how your employees see things, which is why allowing for feedback leads to growth and success.

When approaching an employee with constructive criticism, you need to be intentional about how you deliver the message. Your tone of voice, method of communication, setting for the conversation, and even the time of day can all affect how the message is received. If you have noticed something that you would like your employees to change, address the subject on a Monday morning rather than a Friday afternoon. This allows for adjustments to be made during the week and reduces the chances of your employees internalizing the message and interpreting it differently than you intended it. If you want the feedback to be taken seriously and in a positive manner, then you need to deliver the feedback in such a way that it is understood. Do not beat around the bush or sugar coat things when delivering feedback, but also do not become negative and accusatory. Bring the topic to light, work through possible solutions with your team, and talk about the positive benefits of making the suggested adjustment. In other words, craft your feedback to be specific and actionable. Allow time for questions and comments from your employees, and take their accounts into consideration. As I said before, they will likely see things with a different perspective from you, so their feedback is just as important as yours. They might have a suggestion that you did not think of, or they might know about influential factors that you would not have otherwise known.

Why is it important to give constructive feedback? For one, this type of open communication builds trust within your organization. It tells your employees that you have a vested interest in their success and in the success of the organization as a whole. Each employee’s contributions matter, and by providing feedback to both individuals and teams, you are fostering an environment of growth, receptivity, and trust. Secondly, it is important to give constructive feedback and not negative criticism. No one likes to be criticized, and it raises a person’s defenses if you start attacking the way they are doing things. They might interpret the criticism as an attack on them personally, their livelihood, and even their character. Deliver your message constructively. A third point to consider is that feedback should be expected and it should be a regular occurrence. It should never come as a surprise when you deliver feedback. This is why I am a strong advocate for weekly check-in meetings, which provides a scheduled time to discuss how things are going and what can be improved upon. If you are in regular communication with your employees, everyone stays in the loop and up to date with your business dealings.

Finally, constructive feedback is essential because it clarifies expectations and boosts company cohesion. This does not take away from an individual’s uniqueness, which is also important in business; rather, it helps employees work together toward a common goal with the same understanding of what is expected of them.


-Meghan Slaughter

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