The health of a workplace culture is determined, in large part, by the degree and quality of communication between managers and employees. If employees feel that their voices are being heard and that their concerns are being acted upon, productivity, camaraderie, and organization-wide success is likely to follow. If they feel that their contributions are not being noticed or that they’re just anonymous cogs in a vast machine, on the other hand, the workplace as a whole is bound to eventually grind to a halt.
In order to maximize productivity and feelings of wellbeing in the workplace, therefore, it’s critical for employers to be able to effectively communicate with employees. This begins with an understanding of how to provide constructive feedback.
How to Optimize Your Approach to Providing Employee Feedback
Ideally, providing feedback to your employees should be a balancing act between praise and constructive criticism. And above all else, honesty should be your guiding principle. When your employees know that you’re telling them the truth about their performance, they’ll feel greater appreciation when you compliment their work. They’ll also feel deeper concern when you point out, specifically, how they could improve (and they’ll subsequently be more likely to act on those pointers).
Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you’re developing your employee feedback strategy:
- Make Face-to-Face Communication a Priority. Receiving feedback via email can be helpful in some cases, but it should never be an employer’s only means of communicating with his or her employees. As often as you’re able, try to meet with your employees in-person when you’re providing them with feedback.
- Be ready to provide your employees with concrete examples. It isn’t enough to say, for example, “you’re not participating as much as you could be in project meetings.” Instead, try to be as specific as possible. As an alternative to the above example, you might say something along the line of: “in last week’s meeting, I noticed that you weren’t chiming in as much as your teammates. Moving forward, can you make it your goal to contribute to the conversation a bit more? You’ve been doing great work with this project, and I think that the quality of the meetings could be improved by your input.”
- Address problems as soon as you become aware of them. In other words, you should make it a priority to fix problems with employees as quickly and as directly as possible. If you notice problematic behavior, don’t just make a “mental note” to address it later. That will just allow the problem to continue, and it could possibly even start to impact other employees. When you notice something that could be fixed or improved in an employee’s performance, let them know as soon as you’re able to.
- Make your feedback solutions-oriented. That said, it isn’t enough to merely point out opportunities for improvement. Employers should also make it their goal to provide employees with a practical path forward. In other words, rather than merely making a problem known, you should also be ready to offer potential solutions.
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