28 February 2024

How to give constructive feedback

Providing feedback can be transformative. It can shift perspectives while solving personal and professional challenges. But you need to approach it carefully.

The first thing to address is time: make sure it’s the right time for both of you to have this conversation and allocate enough time for questions. Organising follow-up chats and making mentoring a regular process is also helpful. That way, it becomes less of an ordeal.

Once you’ve agreed on a date, it’s time to prepare and set your intention. Think about specific examples for both positive and negative feedback. Try using examples that you have witnessed yourself, using lots of “I” language. Because hearsay will always negatively impact workplace culture.

Always start with the positives. Then, if you’d like the staff member to change their behaviour, focus on opportunities and not criticism, setting clear goals for the future. Work together to address what could be done differently to achieve a better outcome for everyone.

It’s important for feedback to be a two-way street. Ask for feedback in return and learn from it. Remember, it’s just information. Take on board what’s useful and shake off the rest.

David Curtain is available for mentoring sessions if you need help setting goals and moving forward.