How to give constructive feedback

When you’re managing people, giving constructive feedback is an important part of your job. Handled well, it can boost the morale of your team, clear up any confusion about expectations and improve performance. Your team will feel motivated to work harder and smarter, and understand exactly what they need to do to improve their skills and attitude.

There are two key reasons you may need to give feedback:

  • To motivate your team by praising what they are doing well and encouraging them to continue their good work.
  • To help a member of your team develop their skills by giving them specific, honest and helpful feedback on their performance. 

Using feedback to motivate your team

To motivate your team, feedback should be:

  • Short and to the point.
  • Immediate and spontaneous.
  • Specific to the person.
  • Specific to what they have achieved.
  • Clear about the positive results. 

Using feedback to help develop skills

To help a team member improve and develop their skills, feedback should be:

  • Given at the right time.
  • Realistic and refer to behaviour they can change.
  • Clear about the designed outcome you want.
  • Blame-free so focus on the benefits of change.
  • Focused on behaviour and the results, not person.
  • Specific and factual with real examples.
  • Free of negative, unhelpful words like ‘lazy’ and ‘stupid’.
  • Free of sarcasm, aggression and patronising expressions.
  • Balanced so mention things they have done well, too.
  • Fair and equal so listen to their viewpoint.
  • Constructive so agree a way forward.