If you are in a leadership role it is imperative that you are regularly communicating with your team on their performance efforts with the utmost professionalism and care. Feedback, when delivered well, enhances performance and increases productivity and morale. Feedback should be utilised with the intention of supporting individuals in reaching their career objectives whilst meeting the overall goals of the workplace. Good news is that you can learn how to master the art of delivering feedback.

There are skills required in giving feedback but before I share with you the key points, I would like to highlight the difference between giving constructive and negative feedback.

The ultimate goal in delivering feedback is to reinforce positive behaviours, extinguish unhelpful behaviours, determine where the learning gaps are, and how you can help the individual in meeting the desired goals. The receiver needs to feel that you are working alongside them rather than against them. Feedback shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to exert your rank or influence, rather it should be used as a means to exercise your suite of soft skills. Negative feedback is critical in nature and tends to leave the receiver feeling despondent and unmotivated. On the other hand, constructive feedback come from a supportive space that aims to nurture the individual in accomplishing the goals set. It is therefore vital that feedback is delivered sensitively and with skill.

Here are my tips on how to master the art of delivering feedback:

  • Understand your own belief systems around giving feedback – Some leaders may shy away from giving feedback in fear of not being liked. This belief system will not only interfere with your leadership effectiveness but can run the risk of fracturing your working relationships.
  • Be clear on the reasons for giving feedback – what is its function? Is it for the purpose of addressing inappropriate workplace behaviours or is it for the routine performance reviews? Knowing the reasons for giving people [feedback?] will assist you in meeting your end goal.
  • Visualise the outcomes you are hoping to achieve as a result of the meeting and brainstorm the actionable steps required to meet the end goals.
  • Rather than listing the “do nots” replace it with the “how to’s”. Empower the individual to become an active agent in their development. By doing this you gain more commitment on their part.
  • Focus on the behaviour rather than the person – Avoid blaming, rather identify the behaviour that is problematic and the impact thereof. Work together in exploring alternative behaviour that can lead to positive outcomes.
  • Lastly, follow up – check in with the individual to see how they are progressing with the behavioural changes – are they requiring further support or interventions. This shows that you are not only supportive but you are committed to seeing them achieve the end results.

Once you have mastered this skill, you will not only achieve your desired outcomes; you will be more approachable as a leader, you will have improved working relationships and a team that will be more enthusiastic in working with you.