Although the Pandemic has separated many employees from one another and from their supervisors/leaders, the need for effective and timely feedback is more important now than ever.
With feedback, as with comedy, timing is everything.
When you’re giving constructive feedback (including positive feedback, although I’m focusing on constructive criticism below), try to give that feedback as soon as possible. Here’s why:
- The issue(s) will be fresh in everyone’s mind.
- You’ll waste less time ruminating over it (if it’s critical feedback) or rehearsing it (whether it’s positive or negative).
- You’ll bring closure to the situation quickly. The longer you wait, the other person may wonder why you did, or they may have forgotten about it already and feel blindsided when you bring it up.
Keeping the timing in mind, here are five tips for giving constructive feedback:
1. Do it in face to face. It’s the only way to pick up on the facial expressions and body language so critical to making sure your message is being received as intended. Face to face can include an in-person socially-distanced conversation, or via video.
2. Do it one-on-one. The other person will appreciate the privacy. Avoid criticizing people during in-person or video group meetings; it stings and potentially makes everyone feel they might be the next target of harsh words.
3. Focus on the facts, not your emotions. Criticism is a dish best served cold. If you’re upset about the situation, talk with a third party to lower your upset before discussing it directly with the person it involves.
4. Avoid interpreting someone else’s behavior. Even agreeing on what happened is sometimes difficult. Getting someone to accept your view of why they did whatever they did may be next to impossible. Focus on the behavior itself and leave it up to them to explain their actions and the motivations that drove those actions.
5. Ask questions. Make sure you learn as much as you can about the behavior you’re giving critical feedback about. Your willingness to listen may make the other person open to whatever feedback you’re providing.