Want to improve the productivity and efficiency of your employees? Give them feedback!

Want to improve the productivity and efficiency of your employees? Give them feedback!

It was Bill Gates who said “we all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

That seems straightforward enough, right? Give feedback to your employee, and they will remain happy and loyal forever – win win!

But…have you ever given feedback to an employee, only to receive a negative response?

Feedback is one of the most important management tools for companies, however it can be one of the trickiest ones to get right. Feedback has the tendency to impact on people’s emotions which can mean that many managers avoid giving feedback altogether. However, despite how difficult it can be to give constructive feedback, avoiding it can do more harm than good. For employees, receiving feedback is important for development, productivity and morale, and is therefore a vital tool for companies to achieve results and drive success.

One mistake that managers often make is to wait until something goes wrong to give feedback or make changes. Employees prefer to hear about their successes in the workplace rather than their failings, which is why constructive feedback is most effective when positive feedback is also regularly delivered. When negative feedback is delivered ineffectively, the results can be highly detrimental to an employee’s performance.

In order to deliver negative feedback in an effective way that increases productivity, preserves morale and improves success, managers should consider the following strategies:

Avoid the ‘sandwich method’

There is a common misconception that the sandwich method – delivering negative feedback sandwiched in the middle of positive feedback – is an effective way of communicating feedback, however, it turns out that this is neither a transparent or effective approach. It can end up more closely resembling the “crap filled lolly” by presenting something as sweet when at its centre it actually isn’t.

Get to the point and remain focussed

Sugar coating the problem without drawing focus to the bottom-line is a way that some managers try to give feedback to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. This method is highly ineffective. By being specific and maintaining focus, managers can ensure that employees have heard and understood the information that has been given to them.

Ensure you only discuss their behaviour, not their character

Giving feedback in a way that appears to attack someone’s character can be humiliating, disempowering and undermining. Effective and constructive feedback should be framed around the task at hand rather than the employee’s character.

Discuss the solution too, not just the problem

Constructive feedback should be delivered in a way that highlights potential future successes. Instead of dwelling on the problem, managers should guide employees by concentrating on the solution. By concentrating on “what to do” instead of “what not to do”, the person will feel more empowered to achieve success.

Keep in mind that all employees respond to feedback differently, so when giving constructive feedback it’s important for managers to be receptive to the individual’s response. This way you can tailor your next discussion according to the techniques the person responded best to.


About David Leahy

David Leahy is the Director of Directions Unlimited, a specialist consultancy providing people solutions of every shape and size – from JobFit assessment testing, behavioural interviews and outstanding managerial tools to executive one-to-one coaching, team and group coaching programs. David “gets” business having worked for more than 30 years with multinationals and SMEs. An accredited organisational coach, he possesses a broad coaching experience having coached at CEO and Senior Executive level in the USA, South America, Europe and Australia.



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