How to give negative feedback in a constructive way

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things”.

Winston Churchill

No one likes to receive negative feedback

… but it’s much easier when:

  • You’ve explained to your team in advance what to expect and what is the purpose.
  • They know the way it is given. It’s better if it’s used naturally within the team.
  • You preach by example. Request feedback and thank your team for it.
  • Give negative feedback in the right way. Don’t forget its purpose is to correct or improve something. If it’s not going to change anything, maybe you should think twice.

Some tips for giving constructive feedback

  • Explain first what to expect it and its purpose.
  • Give hints about how to receive it.
  • Make your team see it as something useful that will contribute to their professional career. Get them to ask for it.
  • When something can be improved, it should be informed about right away. Try to avoid giving constructive feedback after a long time. It won’t be understood as an attempt to improve things but as a reproach.

The more immediate the feedback is, the more impact it has

  • Every event, one feedback message: don’t let things pile up.
  • Prepare it carefully: good feedback cannot be improvised. Everything you say has to be planned down to the last detail, every little nuance counts.
  • Always in private: Never give negative feedback in front of other people.

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