Don’t Take it Personally – Part Two: How to Effectively Provide Constructive Criticism to Help Your Team Grow

In part one of our “Don’t Take it Personally” blog series, we shared tips and tricks for employees to accept constructive criticism and feedback and use it as fuel to grow. But, as managers and employers, we hold part of the onus for ensuring that we’re providing feedback effectively and in a way that will allow our team to thrive. Feedback and constructive criticism are artforms that take some time to master as a manager, but once you do, you’ll see your team reap the benefits. Today, we’re sharing a few impactful tips we’ve learned from experience to help you get started on supporting your team’s growth!

Tips for How to Provide Feedback Effectively

Providing feedback that motivates and resonates with your team is critical for culture building in any business. As a leader, part of your job is to motivate your team—even when having tough conversations. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t Focus on Weaknesses Only
When you focus just on what someone is doing wrong or where they’re lacking, you’ll instantly demotivate and hinder their growth. Ensure that your meetings about growth aren’t just focused on the negative, but also where the employee is contributing positively. That will help build trust, camaraderie, and overall greater confidence to work on the more challenging skills.
Be Specific
The more specific your feedback, the easier it will be for your employees to correct or continue the behaviors you’re discussing. When giving feedback, come with concrete examples and scenarios that apply to the skills you’re addressing with clear expectations and suggestions for how to improve. While it is important for employees to be able to navigate ambiguity, they shouldn’t have to do that when it comes to feedback that will help them improve.
Get to Know Your Employees
The key to providing effective feedback is ensuring you’re communicating in a way that is meaningful to each individual employee. Think before you act when it comes to providing feedback because the delivery and environment is oftentimes just as important as the feedback itself.
Embrace Vulnerability
While many leaders see vulnerability as weakness, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” To build a company culture that is accepting of feedback and constructive criticism, you need to welcome it yourself as a leader and be open with your own imperfections that you’re working on.

3 Ways to Provide Feedback to Your Team

Ultimately, depending on your conversations with your employees upfront, you may end up using all three of these methods, or others! These are just ideas for where to begin.
The Sandwich Method in Weekly Meetings
When you do a weekly catch-up with your employees, it can be highly beneficial for growth, as well as an opportunity to provide positive feedback, to boost confidence and provide a “job well done” that will enforce positive habits while also enhancing employee engagement. But, not everything is positive, that’s inevitable. One tried-and-true method that is sometimes a bit controversial today is the sandwich method. Providing a compliment or positive feedback on either side of criticism or areas for growth opportunity to soften the blow, so to speak.
Monthly Development Meetings with Focus on One Area
Oftentimes when providing feedback, managers will give a laundry list of things for employees to work on. That’s too much and will simply overwhelm your employees rather than help them grow. Set up a monthly development meeting that is specifically designed to provide feedback on areas for growth. Make it collaborative and allow the employee to provide topic ideas where they think their skills gaps may lie allowing that monthly meeting to be geared toward providing constructive feedback, as well as an action plan for improvement. The feedback can be reviewed the next month prior to starting on the next area of development.
Quarterly Performance Reviews
While the standard at most companies is annual performance reviews, that leaves a lot to the imagination for the other 11 months of the year. Without consistent feedback, you may be losing valuable opportunities to grow your team the rest of the year. Rather than annual reviews, do quarterly progress check-ins or performance reviews. This way, you have a structured opportunity to provide feedback and create goals to be worked on in the short-term and long-term. Before implementing any of these, start by asking your employee how they would prefer to receive feedback. Understanding what type of feedback they best respond to will help facilitate open and effective communication channels!

Development Benefits Team Members at All Levels

No one is perfect. That’s part of the beauty of life. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow! Providing feedback in a way that works for your employees as individuals is a gift that will only allow your team members to evolve into the very best version of themselves. Struggling to provide feedback to your team? Managers can learn from constructive feedback and training, too! Let’s chat about how our NimblyWise programs can help professionals at all levels of their careers with constructive feedback and coaching!