Steps To Providing Critical Feedback

As I discussed in my post, The Fear of Providing Feedback – Driving forward, providing critical feedback can be challenging, as people may become defensive or feel attacked. However, when provided effectively, critical feedback can help people grow and improve. Now that we understand what holds us back,  here are some tips on how to provide critical feedback so that people will receive it positively:

  • Be specific: Provide specific examples of behaviors or actions that need improvement. Avoid generalizations or assumptions.
  • Focus on behavior, not personality: Critique the behavior, not the person. Don’t make it personal. Avoid statements like “you’re lazy” and focus on specific behavior like “I noticed you missed the deadline.”
  • Use “I” statements: Use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, “I noticed that the report was submitted late” instead of “You submitted the report late.”
  • Provide context: Explain why the behavior is problematic or how it affects the team or organization. Help the person understand the impact of their behavior.
  • Be solution-oriented: Provide suggestions on how to improve the behavior or offer solutions to the problem. Be willing to collaborate to find a solution.
  • Give feedback in private: Unless you are in a safe environment/culture to provide candid feedback openly, avoid giving feedback in front of others. Provide feedback in a private setting to avoid making the person feel embarrassed or defensive. There may be exceptions if there is a meaningful benefit to the group benefit from seeing the behavior/statement addressed.
  • End on an encouraging note: End the conversation by acknowledging the person’s strengths and expressing confidence in their ability to improve. If you this is not genuine, acknowledge that the feedback was hard to hear and thank them for listening. Encourage them on the possibility of improvement.

Remember, providing feedback is about helping people grow and improve, not about putting them down. By focusing on behavior, providing context, and offering solutions, you can provide well-received feedback that helps people grow.

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