How to Give Constructive Feedback

When you observe an employee engaging in a behaviour that you recognize as undesirable or in contravention of established team values, then you need to take action. Here are some tips on how to give constructive feedback in the workplace:

  • Make sure that you are constantly giving feedback, especially the positive type. Try to keep a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative.
  • Give feedback in a way that fits with the persons personality type. For example, dominant and conscientious styles probably prefer praise one-on-one, whereas the steady and influencer styles prefer public praise. ALWAYS give negative feedback one-on-one in private.
  • Make certain that the feedback reinforces team values.

Situations requiring feedback include:

  • Regular, scheduled performance feedback
  • Coaching for development of specific competencies
  • Following up on goal setting
  • Correcting undesirable behaviours and poor performance
  • Praising desirable behaviours and performance

Steps for giving Constructive Feedback on Negative Behaviours or Poor Performance

Here are some steps you can follow –  modify to suit your circumstances:

  1. Arrange for the feedback as soon as possible after the observed event.
  2. Set the scene: corrective feedback should be performed in your office or in an office where there is complete privacy.
  3. Be specific: describe what you observed, and the effect the behaviour or poor performance is having on individuals and the team. Remind the staff member of their good qualities, and your disappointment with their behaviours/performance.
  4. Ask for their response: Give the staff member an opportunity to respond. Don’t get into an argument on rights or wrongs, don’t get personal, focus on the observed behaviours.
  5. Offer suggestions for improvement.
  6. Ask the staff member to make a commitment to improve.
  7. Tell them what will happen next.
  8. Follow up with a written confirmation of what was agreed to, if appropriate. Always maintain a written record for yourself.
  9. Keep observing behaviour of all team members.
  10. Reinforce team values, e.g. “Respect each other”, whenever and wherever you can.
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