The art of providing constructive feedback – the key to professional development

Feedback is an indispensable tool in today’s business world. It supports company development, individual employee growth, and a fair corporate culture. What makes feedback effective? Above all, it must be constructive! Today, we’ll discuss what constructive feedback actually is and how to provide it.

Constructive feedback, what is it?

Constructive feedback is honest, specific, fact-based, and observational feedback that aims to support the interlocutor (usually an employee or potential employee) in their development – for example, in improving work efficiency. Constructive feedback highlights the employee’s strengths and identifies areas that need improvement. This distinguishes it from criticism, which focuses solely on negative aspects, weaknesses, and mistakes. Constructive feedback offers solutions, suggests, and indicates a path worth taking for development.

Why is it worth giving constructive feedback?

The idea behind constructive feedback is to promote development. Well-formulated feedback identifies areas needing improvement and shows development paths. Constructive feedback is uplifting and adds motivation, essential for achieving better results and efficiently realizing business goals. It supports the individual development of employees and the overall development of the company, which can achieve more by refining its team.

An important, though often overlooked, feature of feedback is the strengthening of the supervisor-employee relationship. A leader, by providing feedback to a team member, shows their interest, care, and commitment to the employee’s development. This can gain the employee’s trust and favor. Constructive feedback is hugely important for a company’s organizational culture, which is one of the pillars of any well-functioning, successful company. Providing sincere feedback builds openness and trust, improves communication, and can translate into higher efficiency of the entire team.


How to deliver constructive feedback – golden rules

Delivering constructive feedback is an art. Before the conversation with an employee, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough analysis and prepare well. Feedback must primarily be honest, specific, and based on facts.

It should focus on the future and be rich in positive comments. The human mind tends to focus on the negative aspects of statements – you’ve likely experienced how a minor argument or a snide remark ruined your mood for the entire day. If feedback is based on negative opinions, it’s less likely that the employee will draw conclusions from the supervisor’s statement and make improvements. That’s why it’s important to maintain a balance between negative and positive words.

Feedback must suggest solutions and tips. At the same time, it’s essential to ensure that the proposed ideas and advice are feasible. Unrealistic expectations can demotivate, cause stress, and even lead to professional burnout.

The timing and setting are also crucial. It’s best to provide feedback immediately after the event it refers to (as it’s easiest to refer to details) and in a private setting (so the recipient feels at ease and comfortable; providing feedback in public can be a source of stress, embarrassment, and shame).

When giving feedback, it’s important to respect the recipient. Address them directly, assess behavior and attitudes, not the person, avoid hasty conclusions, and don’t touch on aspects beyond the evaluated person’s control. It’s important to maintain objectivity, keep eye contact, and use a calm tone of voice.

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Proven techniques for providing feedback

There are several proven techniques for delivering constructive feedback. One of the most comprehensive and psychologically preferred is the Pendleton model. The Pendleton model consists of 7 elements (for example, the sender must ensure that the recipient is ready to receive feedback). Its idea is to focus strongly on the recipient’s emotions and feelings, leading to a situation where the recipient themselves identifies what needs improvement.

Another popular technique is the FUKO Method, an acronym for 4 words:

F for Facts, U for Feelings/Positioning, C for Consequences, E for Expectations. The FUKO model is effective when both the sender and the recipient are emotionally involved in the topic being discussed.

The third commonly used model is 3 KA, which is feedback presenting positives and negatives, enriched with justifications for the indicated elements. Feedback given using the 3 KA technique is based on potential and gently presents the area for development.

Talk about behaviors, not traits, praise publicly, criticize privately, be objective, specific, offer solutions, and provide guidance – constructive feedback is a valuable tool in employee development and the domain of a good and committed employer/leader. It’s worth providing it, remembering the above principles!

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